Senate Unveils Legislation to Protect FAA Whistle-Blowers

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A bill that would bolster protections of whistle-blowers at the Federal Aviation Administration was introduced in the U.S. Senate on Thursday.

The legislation is a result of the Commerce Committee’s interviews with 50 agency whistle-blowers, some who accused the agency of being too cozy with operators and manufacturers regarding plane crashes, the committee said in a press release.

The panel’s chairman Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, has also been critical of how the agency oversaw Boeing Co.’s development of the now-grounded 737 Max.

The bill would require the FAA to revamp its office that investigates internal complaints from whistle-blowers and create a new ombudsman to educate employees on such issues, among other requirements.

Wicker has accused the FAA of not being responsive to his requests for documents and access to employees during his yearlong investigation. “It is important that we pass this bill to improve the way the FAA handles safety concerns raised by its own employees,” he said in the release.

The FAA has defended its response to the committee’s inquiry, saying it has produced thousands of pages of documents.

The committee is also set to review a separate bill that would attempt to reform the FAA’s oversight of manufacturers such as Boeing in a hearing on Sept. 16.

House lawmakers are expected to introduce their own legislation to address the agency’s oversight.

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