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Southwest using ASAP to discipline mechanics

Tue Oct 15, 2019 10:54 pm ... e1399be3b9

Since this summer, Southwest Airlines has begun punishing its Aircraft Maintenance Technicians (AMTs) who utilize the federal safety hotline called the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP). This program, set up to enhance aviation safety by encouraging voluntary reporting of safety issues and events, is intended to be used without fear of retribution.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, “Under ASAP, safety issues are not resolved through punishment or discipline.” Indeed, the primary purpose of ASAP is to prevent aviation disasters by promoting the open discussion of safety lapses, rather than driving them underground.
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Re: Southwest using ASAP to discipline mechanics

Tue Oct 15, 2019 11:05 pm

I'm really curious to hear more about this. ASAP is actually not a blanket immunity. If the ASAP Committee decides the report doesn't fit the ASAP program definition then it's refereed back to the company to possibly investigation and/or disciplinary action.
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Re: Southwest using ASAP to discipline mechanics

Tue Oct 15, 2019 11:05 pm

This reads more as an angry union article than anything factual (which makes sense given the authors), particularly given the closing paragraph.

As the representatives of Southwest’s licensed, expert aircraft maintenance technicians, we have been subject to persistent pressure from the airline. Even now, Southwest is engaged in litigation that, if successful, would have the effect of suppressing reports of aircraft damage. Nonetheless, with its implementation of disciplinary policies in conflict of the federal reporting program, Southwest’s actions put safety behind other objectives. With these latest attacks on what’s left of the safety culture at Southwest, we ask the traveling public to join us in holding management accountable.

Two disciplined mechanics does not a pattern make. Just because there have been less ASAP reports doesn't mean that WN is using those reports to discipline employees (plus if the reports aren't covered by ASAP they will be used for discipline which is a key point of ASAP). Happy mechanics tend to leads to less "spiteful" reports that are submitted out of anger versus the genuine ones that will always be submitted.
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Re: Southwest using ASAP to discipline mechanics

Wed Oct 16, 2019 3:38 am

If Southwest is actually using accepted ASAP reports to discipline mechanics, then they are likely in violation of their MOU, and the FAA representative would suspend ASAP pending an investigation by the CMO.

Our ASAP ERC has wide latitude as to what reports it can accept, but rather narrow criteria for excluding a report. I assume Southwest operates under the same constraints, especially since ours was modeled on theirs.

My suspicion, without any further information, is that reports that used to be accepted even though they didn't meet the criteria are no longer being accepted. Remember, for a report to be accepted or excluded, all 3 members (AMT, Company & FAA) of the ERC have to reach consensus.

If a report is excluded then the company...and the FAA are free to take whatever action they deem appropriate.
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Re: Southwest using ASAP to discipline mechanics

Wed Oct 16, 2019 3:48 am

Unfortunately, this is a difficult situation to make an opinion on. We know that they have had issues with the union. The union has used smear tactics in the past. However, we also know that WN has been making considerable pushback towards the union and the mechanics. There could be some validity to the claim, but there's also a 50% chance that this is just more fluff from the union to get their way. I'd be interested to see where this story goes.
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Re: Southwest using ASAP to discipline mechanics

Wed Oct 16, 2019 6:34 am

If what AMFA is claiming in the article is true, this is very scary indeed. This piece seems to imply that this issue may go back a bit, and the result is less ASAPs are being submitted. This is not a situation that a union would exploit for some sort of gain as has been suggested.

One scary thing that was mentioned in the article is that the individual the company hired to oversee the ASAP program also oversees disciplinary action. This should NEVER happen in any SMS at an airline, and for this to happen in the ASAP program is very worrying.

I am with everyone else, I want to hear more info about what is going on, but I don't like what I read here at all.

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