STATEMENT OF MICHAEL D. FANFALONE PRESIDENT PROFESSIONAL AIRWAYS SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS (PASS)AFL-CIO BEFORE THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE ï¿½ SUBCOMMITTEE ON AVIATION ON FAA REAUTHORIZATION MARCH 27, 2003
quote: A designee is a private individual or company serving as a representative of the FAA and authorized by law to examine, test and/or conduct inspections necessary for the issuance of a certificate (e.g., airmen, airworthiness, etc.). In the beginning, the designee program worked by allowing experienced industry personnel ï¿½ who had developed a working trust with FAA Inspectors ï¿½ o take on some of the more repetitive types of certification activities.
Unfortunately, as the program expanded over the years, the amount of experience and trust diminished while the number of designees soared. The creation and subsequent expansion of the designee program is a result of the Agency attempting to compensate for inadequate Inspector staffing. Instead of hiring additional Inspectors to offset increases in work, the FAA simply appoints more designees. This unbalanced system has resulted in an unmanageable number of designees ï¿½ over 30,000 for Flight Standards and over 2,000 for Manufacturing Inspection District Offices (MIDO) ï¿½ that makes oversight nearly impossible. Furthermore, since designees are not FAA employees and are either self-employed or employed by airlines, repair stations, manufacturers, etc., they are paid by the very entity that is seeking their approval. This system of designees, acting on behalf of the FAA and paid by the industry, has resulted in the industry overseeing itself.
Consider the recent evidence that the crash of Swissair Flight 111 ï¿½ which killed 229 people in September 1998 ï¿½ was attributable to a lack of designee oversight by the FAA.4 The findings indicate that the Agency did not detect problems with the design of an interactive entertainment system used in the aircraft because no one directly employed by the FAA reviewed the systemï¿½s design or installation plans, supervised the installation or signed off on any work. Instead, that work was done for profit by a company that the FAA authorized to approve airplane modifications on its behalf ï¿½ individual Designated Engineering Representatives ï¿½ and a corporate Designated Alteration Station.