I’m in a rotten mood this morning.
As you know, our old airplane has been laid up for annual inspection while we await an approval to use a slightly different specialized rivet replacement than one called for in an old airworthiness directive on our airplane. A bigger rivet replacement than required.
So, I hire the designated engineering representative (a busy fellow) and he gets the application in last week. And then Yesterday we hear that the FAA can’t accept the application by my designated engineer and that it has to be filed by me.
Now, I don’t know if the FAA has a big problem with people running around paying consulting engineers (in advance) to file minutia like this oversize rivet replacement request (the difference in bolt sizes is measured in mere thousandths) but it has started to take on the feel/vibe of a government bureaucracy playing either “How important we are” or simply “running the clock.”
In a genuinely customer-service oriented group, if an application came in that should have gone to a different person, it would have been forwarded to the “right” person and promptly addressed. Same day.
It’d be like getting in the wrong line at McDonalds. Instead of saying “She’ll help you in the next line over” and you’d have your burger in 2-minutes, THIS is the administrative equivalent of saying “Your engineer got you in the wrong line. You have to go home and don’t come back until next week. In the meantime, we won’t do anything on your behalf because you have to eat here and we don’t care. If you come back next week we will deal with your hamburger request then….if we’re not on vacation, or away at a meeting.”
If McDonalds had that kind of attitude, they’d be out of business. But government agencies aren’t like that.
No, instead, the FAA kicks it back to the engineer, who punts to mechanic, who emails to me, but since his email didn’t forward right, I have to bug the (busy) engineer…and so Mr. Ure is losing patience.
What SHOULD have happened would be the review and approval as filed. Should have been done Thursday. No, Wednesday.
IF there was A legal requirement for me to apply, then a 2-minute email or phone call from the FAA should have fixed it. “Mr. Ure, you really want to fix this change on your airplane? Please confirm…love, your government.”
Nope. That, you see, would make sense.
Instead, by kicking it all back and expecting a roll-over & resubmission the FAA can count one application approved and one denied. “Oh my God, we are SO busy…why look at all this work we have to do! We need more people and more people to manage the people and managers to manage the managers….”
Yep, make half as much work look far bigger.
This is not the first time I have run into this kind of thinking. I’ve seen it before in both state and federal education bureacrazies, as well.
You may remember I have been a vocational college president. What happened with the US Dept of Ed is during along-ago audit, an overly zealous auditor came up with lots of “findings” of errors on the part of a school I was managing. He was threatening, doing the bureaucrat’s special Gotcha Dance that they do.
However, when I got the report it was simply dealt by Ures truly by pointing out that the audit period was for three years previous when a whole different set of rules was involved – and the bureaucrat had incorrectly applied current award year rules – which were substantially different.
End of Gotcha Dance but it became the subject of my letter to the Inspector General’s office once the audit “findings” were thrown out.
Disney owns the trademark on Mickey Mouse, I think. It’s too bad. I can think of lots of bureaucracies more deserving of the logo.
I see it in planning departments, building departments, police departments…come to think of it, I can’t think of many places I haven’t seen it.
This is not to say that I don’t respect the FAA. I do.
But this is the second big piece of evidence I’ve seen that they have no clue when comes to serving the people who pay the bills, in the first place. Big bills they are: Not only are most government workers making more than the peeps nowadays, but special retirement programs and medical, too…
The relationship is not an adversarial one, except as petty bureaucrats make it so. But it drifts that-a-way. The Dance doesn’t help.
Is it just the nickel and diming of George and running the clock so he can’t play with his hobby?
Example #2: The FAA has also been sitting on its butt when comes to reform of the Third Class Medical requirements. The proposal has been made that for private plane use (not for hire) that evidence you can drive a car (e.g. see well enough for a driver’s license) should suffice for driving a private airplane.
The idea has been promoted by the Experiment Aircraft Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Air Safety Foundation if I recall correctly, and anyone else with a nickel’s worth of understanding.
And YET TWO YEARS ON, the FAA can’t get this one right and the whole kit and caboodle will likely end up back in Congress where the FAA will have to be TOLD specifically to accept a driver’s license in lieu of the third class medical…something they could have done years ago.
But not when empire building is at play.
All of this said, the FAA is quick to take credit for air safety. Reality check: the FAA doesn’t fly or fix airplanes. It’s the engineers, mechanics, and the pilots who get the job done. And it would be nice to have a more collegial and less bureaucratic relationship toward that end.
And don’t look now, but it seems likely to me that when the Baltimorons are out trashing Mobtown, there’s an undercurrent of frustration with the bureaucracies that forget the role of service to the public.
There. I feel better now.
I’ll be back next week for my hamburger. (I’m expecting “extra pickle, now.)
In the meantime, I’ll just keep putting everything into a file so every member of every aviation committee or subcommittee, the GAO, and inspectors general all get some reading material if Mr. Ure doesn’t get a better “customer service experience” than he has, so far.
The message of Baltimore is people will only “get back in line” so much. And patriotic, hard working, tax-paying, small business owning private pilots ain’t all that much different when we begin to see The Dance.
At so many levels, we’ve slipped from government by and for the people to government against and on the people.
Write when you break-even,