Ever heard of Con Air? Yes, they also retaliate against their aviation Whistleblowers.

The record clearly shows that FAA has a bad habit of damaging those controllers, inspectors and other employees who speak up to fix problems. But, to FAA’s credit, here’s evidence that the same corrupt practice is found in other, non-FAA areas of aviation.

JPATS is the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System, also known as ‘Con Air’.
They have a fleet of approximately ten older, noisier Boeing 727’s and MD83’s. A few government entities, such as ICE and the Bureau of Prisons, hire JPATS to fly prisoners and illegal aliens around the country. A 2006 DoJ-OIG Audit states that JPATS has 329 employees and an $87M annual budget. JPATS is a small organization, and they are not regulated by FAA, but they do have a fleet of aircraft, thus they have more than a few aircraft mechanics.
A few years ago, one of the JPATS aircraft maintenance coordinators expressed concerns that requirements in the JPATS general maintenance manual were being violated. He spoke up, just as all brave whistleblowers do, to correct a problem so that mechanical failures would not happen, and passengers would not be killed. Soon after he spoke up, he was removed from his supervisory position and downgraded from a GS-13 to a GS-12 position. The memo demoting him[1] stated in part, that the complainant had placed JPATS in a “…vulnerable position by communicating aircraft maintenance issues to external organizations without first discussing with your immediate supervisor and senior JPATS Management.” Based on this language and other evidence, OSC concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the complainant’s demotion violated the Whistleblower Protection Act. They found this to be a retaliation for a protected disclosure, which is a Prohibited Personnel Practice. When OSC advised JPATS of its conclusion, JPATS agreed to take corrective action. The whistleblower was appointed to another GS-13 position, his duties were restored, and he was reimbursed reasonable attorney fees. In exchange, he withdrew his OSC complaint. That one was fairly and fully settled (which is very different than how FAA tends to handle its whistleblower retaliations).

It is noteworthy that within the settlement agreement, JPATS admitted no liability. This is a standard procedure with FAA, too; when they are caught retaliating against a whistleblower, they ALWAYS just pay their way out of jail, and NEVER admit accountability. If anyone has an example where FAA has admitted whistleblower wrongdoing, please forward the evidence, and it will be eagerly posted on this website.

[link to a U.S.Marshalls Service web article about JPATS]


[1] it is not uncommon for federal managers to say incredibly stupid things in their retaliatory actions. In my FAA case, District Manager Mark DePlasco had to provide ‘Douglas Factors’ to justify firing me. He sent the HR Specialist a first draft that said I had to be fired because I had refused to accept a medical retirement. link The HR Specialist sent it right back to Mark, since she knew that I was medically fully certified (thus not eligible for the alleged retirement) and most importantly, the response as originally drafted would never fly if the case ever saw a fair adjudication. Mark immediately fixed it.