FAA Chief Had Helped Delta Retaliate Against Whistleblower, Administrative Judge Rules


The Ministry of Labour already ruled on this point before it became head of the Federal Aviation Administration,

Steve Dixon

have participated in the efforts

Delta Air Lines Inc.

LAD – 1.27%.

Management abused the psychiatric report as retaliation against the pilot who raised the safety issue.

A long decision by the department’s Chief Justice concluded that Dixon, as Delta’s Senior Vice President of Flight Operations, was aware of and approved of the punitive action against the veteran co-pilot.

Carlin Pettit,

who was deemed unfit to fly in December 2016 after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Eventually the diagnosis was revised and she was back on the run.

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This decision supports Mrs Pettitte’s allegations that she was the subject of a special investigation in an attempt to silence her on security issues.

Scott Morris,

The judge who presided over this lengthy trial found that Delta had punished and discriminated against the federally protected whistleblower without any evidence that she had failed in any way in her duty as a pilot. According to the verdict, no witness has questioned his volatile verdict.

The judgment states that in this case the squeaky wheel was not lubricated. Instead, she was unlawfully discriminated against in the form of a mental health assessment to define her career. Mrs Pettitt has forty years of flying experience and a PhD in aviation safety. Many people within Delta considered her safety concerns and warnings valid and told her to communicate them to her managers depending on the decision, but at the same time, other company employees identified her as a candidate for a psychiatric assessment.

The ruling, issued just before Christmas, strongly criticises Delta’s safety culture and warns management in general against the use of mandatory psychological assessments to blindly make pilots comply with the rules.

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A spokesman for Delta said the airline intends to appeal. The company stated in an email that it denies that Pettit retaliated because it raised safety issues, and added that we took its safety issues seriously and investigated them thoroughly. Without going into the details of the decision, Delta stated that it did not accept any form of retaliation, that it encouraged voluntary safety awareness on the part of the employees and that it offered them various opportunities to do so.

Mr Dixon’s involvement in Mrs Pettit’s case was the subject of serious controversy at the time of his confirmation in July 2019. He was not mentioned personally as the subject of the trial.

On behalf of the FAA administrator, an agency representative stated that M. Dixon had only one meeting with Ms. Pettit while at Delta, and instead allowed other business officials to review his complaints and forward them for evaluation. A spokesman referred to what Dixon told the Senate Commerce Committee at the 2019 confirmation hearing, among other things, that there are legitimate questions about his ability to fly and that Delta’s reliance on psychiatric assessments is neither punitive nor discriminatory.

During his 10 years as head of Delta’s flight operations before joining the FAA, Dixon told lawmakers that individual pilot cases were handled by an experienced team, and I didn’t do much on individual cases. He also informed the group that he had given instructions to ensure that appropriate follow-up measures were taken and that contractual procedures were followed.

The psychiatrist who made the initial diagnosis, for which Delta paid, was forced by the Illinois regulatory authorities to discontinue the drug a few years later, partly because of violations related to airline control of commercial pilots. As part of the contract between Delta and its pilots’ association, Ms Pettitte was referred to the doctors at the Mayo Clinic and other facilities for follow-up. They shared the costs of these subsequent reviews with Delta, which rejected the original findings.

In this case, the squeaking wheel was not lubricated.

– Scott Morris, District Attorney, Department of Labor.

In making the diagnosis, the first psychiatrist did not refer to letters in support of Mrs. Pettit and, in his opinion, did not speak to anyone about Mrs. Pettit, not even to the doctor who had given her permission to keep her license as an airline pilot for many years. This initial diagnosis also revealed experiences she had years ago – attending night school, helping her husband with household chores, and raising three children under the age of three with mania.

Mrs Pettit has regained her flying status after almost two years and is now the first officer on the Airbus A330 wide-body aircraft. But the judge acknowledged that the delivery had placed a heavy emotional burden on the pilot. Ms Pettit filed a complaint under the Whistleblowers in Aviation Act, claiming that she had suffered financial loss and damage to her professional reputation. The judge awarded him $500,000. The Executive Board of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is responsible for implementing the Board’s recommendations. The ruling also requires Delta to provide each of its pilots with a copy of the final order to prevent such abuse, according to the judge, who characterized the publication of his order as perhaps embarrassing but not incriminating.

The decision characterised Mrs Pettitte’s safety concerns as cautious and reasonable, including allegations such as chronic pilot fatigue, inadequate pilot training, falsified training records and a lack of confidence on the part of some pilots in their manual piloting of certain models of highly automated jet aircraft.

In his testimony to the court, Mr. Dixon testified that Delta had enlisted the help of an outside investigator to determine Ms. Pettit’s legitimate safety concerns before the company referred her to a psychiatric review.

The verdict describes Mr. Dixon’s testimony in this case as vague, evasive and not very credible. The judge wrote that Dixon’s internal e-mails pointed out that Delta’s open door policy on security complaints was not as open as they say. An FAA spokesperson refused to comment on the matter.

Mrs. Pettit’s lawyer,

Lee Seham,

Mr Kovalev stated that his client refused to respond for fear of possible reprisals from the company. M. Seham said it was clear from the record that current and former senior Delta safety officers, including Mr Dixon, had not clarified how they understood Ms Dixon’s underlying safety concerns.

Email Andy Pashtor at [email protected].

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