A Can of Worms…The Emails Continue!

In my editorial column A Level Playing Field in the June issue of D.O.M. magazine, I told the story of Nick, a repair station owner of an avionics repair station in the Oklahoma City area that felt forced to surrender his repair station because of the hassles his PAI was supposedly giving him. (You can click here to read that editorial if you haven’t already seen it.)
In a follow-up column titled Opening Up a Can of Worms in our July issue, I talked about some of the feedback I had received regarding the June editorial – likening it to opening up a can of worms. (You can click here to read that editorial.)

Well, the feedback keeps coming in. Here are a few emails I received on the subject:


I wanted to compliment you on the "Can of Worms" article, it is Spot On. I am an FAA Inspector with 23 years of experience. I am currently an FAA Safety Team Program Manager -Airworthiness. When I am speaking to airmen I always recommend they do exactly what you said in your article if they are confronted by an inspector. I tell folks to tell the inspector, "I'll be glad to comply with your request if you can show me in the regulations that it is required." The problem of the "rouge" inspector often is because the inspector is trying to enforce what he thinks is right based on his personal experience in the industry and not what the regulations say. This is fairly common with new or young inspectors. They usually come to their senses after having to eat their words a few times.

I love your magazine and read every article, -- my favorite is Bench Marks which is always a new learning experience for me.

Keep up the great work and please continue telling it like it is, even if it hurts.


Here is another email I received, this time from a retired FAA employee:


Just read your article in June issue of D.O.M. I think that unfortunately the trend in the FAA is just as this inspector represents. I retired from the FAA in Sept of 2011, after sixteen years as a GA inspector. The trend in the last four of five years before I retired was to hire ex-airline types to GA positions. I noticed that people were being hired that were not trainable. These folks refused to learn and would not read and do the research to get to where they needed to be. These folks were cowboys and often were proved wrong when they brought violations of operators.

This is just my opinion, but I think the future of GA is in great pearl and that if the FAA had its way GA would go away altogether.

Name Withheld

Another email discussed the problems a reader is having with his ACO, and two MIDOs. Here is part of that email where he discusses an interesting theory about what he calls the Designee Retirement Club (DRC).

Hi Joe,

I found that article very interesting, not because it is news to me, but because someone in the aviation community of rags is doing something about it. Exposing the delinquency of our regulatory terrorists is bound to help at least a little.

Some info you may find interesting. The Ex-FAA employees have a DRC (Designee Retirement Club). It works like this: A FAA guy issues himself a DAR, DER, DMIR etc., before he retires. But while he is still on the FAA payroll he pushes us little guys into using, in my case, a DAR. The PAIs have authority to do inspections but they will not do so if they can force you to use one of their colleagues in the DRC. Even though most anyone can get a DAR of some degree, the vast majority of them are retired FAA employees. I will be getting a DAR for my business but it will be a very limited in scope. If you pull down the Designee list from the FAA web site you will see that most of them are almost unlimited in what they can do. I have a copy of our local Designee list at work, if you want I can forward it to you just for kicks.

The MIDO guys lay this burden of using the DRC on us little guys and we go out of business very often, as stated by those avionics guys you mentioned in your articles. They don't pick on larger companies, that is the bottom feeders in the FAA don't. So, the kind of [stuff] we have to endure is under the radar of the alphabet soup orgs like AOPA, EAA etc. And their green horn new employees are almost always assigned to us small companies.


Wow – “regulatory terrorists” is a strong statement. Kent doesn’t pull any punches.

So, what now? Sure, I touched a nerve with my columns, but what can be done about this? Just talking about it may let those who are having problems vent, but it won’t solve anything.

Thanks to my columns, I have heard numerous times over the last couple of months that sending these complaints up the chain of command at the FAA gets nothing accomplished, and in many instances causes retaliatory actions by the inspectors involved. U.S. Senators are being dragged in with no apparent solution to the problem.

What can be done about this?

I sat on NATA’s maintenance committee a while back. FAA representatives were often invited to attend our meetings, and the topic of the lack of a level playing field often came up. Committee members shared stories of different interpretations between FSDOs and even between inspectors in the same FSDO. The FAA people who attended our meetings were the top brass at FAA AFS-300. They listened to the complaints and worked hard to create accountability in the FSDOs and give industry a chance to take problems up the chain of command until they were resolved – without fear of retribution.

It’s a shame that more than a decade later, these problems, and the retribution if someone chooses to fight back, seem to be continuing.

Seems like some follow-up efforts to change this are called for!

Thanks for reading!

Joe Escobar

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Joe Escobar (jescobar@dommagazine.com)
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