How American Airlines chill the blood of conscientious aircraft mechanics

Cost cutting over safety. Is this the message American Airlines is sending? In 2015 eTurboNews published Dangerous skies when flying on American Airlines.

Today a promotion is sending a chilling message to American Airlines mechanics., and the U.S. aviation industry altogether. “Pressuring Airline mechanics to not record maintenance discrepancies, take shortcuts with maintenance activities, or improperly sign-off on work which was not actually completed. …

This seems to be the track record of Evita Garces (formerly Rodriguez) has to safe American Airlines money in putting airline safety on the side burner.

There are five key positions essential for any airline to operate as required by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Code of Federal Regulations: Chief Pilot, Director of Operations, Director of Safety, Chief Inspector and Director of Maintenance. On Nov. 13, Evita “Evie” Garces, Managing Director of Maintenance Operations Control at American Airlines, was named the company’s new FAA-certificated Director of Maintenance (DOM). As the first female and the first Latina team member to occupy this position, American is making history as it upholds its commitment to diversity.

As the new DOM, Evie is responsible for ensuring that all work on the airline’s aircraft is performed in accordance with Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs); staying up to date on, and maintaining access to, all FARs; and serving as the main maintenance liaison between the FAA and American. She and her team also oversee the day-to-day technical operations of American, which includes oversight of aircraft maintenance, vendor operations in more than 150 cities, ownership of the aircraft maintenance deferral process and the management of out-of-service aircraft. The role was previously occupied by Steve Bobzin, who recently announced his retirement effective at the end of the year.

This same person Evita Garces, formally Evita Rodriguez,  on November 13, 2018,  was appointed by American Airlines as the carrier’s new FAA-certificated Director of Maintenance (DOM).  The DOM is one of five key positions essential for any airline to operate as required by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Code of Federal Regulations.  Lee Seham, an attorney with an extended track record of defending aircraft mechanic whistleblowers, reacted with consternation.

“In view of her track record, aircraft mechanics at American Airlines will see this as a disturbing message that they are expected to subordinate proper maintenance standards to pushing planes back into revenue service,” Mr. Seham opined.

During Ms. Garces’ tenure as Regional Maintenance Director for the midwest region, six Chicago-based aircraft mechanic whistleblowers triggered a federal investigation that reached worrisome conclusions regarding AA maintenance operations.

In a memorandum dated March 25, 2015, H. Clayton Foushee, FAA Director of Audit and Evaluation, cited an “exemplary investigation” by FAA investigators, which concluded that Americas Airlines maintenance managers had:

An [FAA] investigation team … conducted an exemplary investigation, interviewing dozens of witnesses and gathering hundreds of documents, ultimately substantiating all of the complainants’ allegations.”

FAA Memorandum dated March 25, 2015, by Director, Office of Audit and Evaluation, H.Clayton Foushee.

American’s problem was not limited to Chicago.  FAA Director Foushee concluded that the above-referenced degradation of American’s maintenance culture:…

“… may be much more prevalent across American’s organization than even the complainants’ alleged, affecting maintenance activities in Dallas, New York, Miami and beyond.  Additionally, there exists a substantial likelihood that American has not properly conducted lightning strike inspections for a protracted period of time.”

Among the specific allegations substantiated by the cited investigation was that Regional Maintenance Director Evita Rodriguez – now known as Evita Garces — instructed AA technicians:

“You need to strike a balance between safety and productivity.  When I was stationed in JFK, I signed for sumping the Airbus, yet I never did.  I am looking for that balance.”

( ASO CMO-67 Investigation Team Report dated February 27, 2015 at 11.)

“It is hard to imagine anything that would chill the blood of conscientious aircraft mechanics more thoroughly than the appointment of Ms. Garces,” stated Seham.  “One mechanic described it as a kick in the gut.”

“What is the message?  That in the name of ‘efficiency’ American technicians should commit maintenance fraud?  In view of the FAA’s report, it’s hard to read this appointment in any other way.”

SOURCE: Lee Seham, Esq