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Profile of a Whistle-Blower: Former FAA Lawyer David Pardo

Seeing as how the busy holiday travel season is upon us, you might be interested in reading the profile of pilot and former Federal Aviation Administration attorney David Pardo, posted yesterday on the Lawyers and Settlements blog.

Pardo's whistle-blowing was related to the FAA's interpretation of fatigue rules for mechanics and dispatchers. After the crash of a Colgan Air plane in February 2009, Pardo claims the FAA sought to change its interpretation of those rules, all hush-hush-like,  without the required public notice and comment period. And Pardo did not think that was OK. Here's what followed:

"Once I raised concerns internally regarding the refusal to adhere to regulatory procedures, the FAA engaged in a retaliation campaign against me. Firstly, the day after I sent an e-mail stating the law required certain things and I wouldn't sign off on it, my boss agreed with me; she presumed the FAA would proceed with Notice-and-Comment.

"Secondly, that same day, there was a hostile and intimidating conversation in my office with my direct supervisor, who objected to my e-mail. Thirdly, three weeks later, the FAA issued an identical letter without Notice-and-Comment. One month after that, I received a low-performance evaluation. I objected with the evaluation, took it up the chain of command and filed a complaint for reprisal with the US office of Special Counsel.

"After that, there was infighting in the office, the FAA did not respond to my complaint and I was assigned to a different branch. On September 1st, realizing that the external government agencies were not responding to my allegations, I e-mailed the Secretary of Transportation and his general counsel. I notified them of the situation and requested a fair and just investigation into my allegations. Five days after that I created my blog."

On Sept. 20, 2010, David Pardo was terminated from the FAA and given a permanent restraining order not to step foot in any Department of Transportation (DOT) HQs, buildings or facilities.

The blog Pardo refers to is the FAA Lawyer Whistleblower blog, on which Pardo is very active. Most of his posts are aviation- or whistle-blower-related, as per his mission statement. And some of them are a little scary. If you scroll back through the blog, Pardo has posted many of the documents related to the incident that he says got him fired, including email exchanges with attorneys in the Department of Transportation's Office of Special Counsel.

Some of Pardo's emails and letters might -- what's the polite way to say this -- lead you to question his stability. Some of the "evidence" he proffers as proof of a cover-up/conspiracy involving bribery is a bit far-fetched. Regardless, Pardo's story is interesting, and when dealing with anything related to airline safety, I say best to err on the side of caution. Happy flying!

Posted by Eric Lipman on November 10, 2010 at 11:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)


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