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BHM FSDO, Part One, Abuse of Authority and Inspector Misconduct

Discussion in 'Latest Airline News' started by Edward Jeszka, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. Edward Jeszka

    Edward Jeszka Hangar Silver Member V

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    Part One of Two

    I want to highlight some of the abuse of authority that has taken place within the Birmingham FSDO and was conveniently "overlooked" when exposed.

    Ray Ledbetter was probably one of aviation's most qualified airmen. I was very proud to be able to call him my friend. He had a couple of enemies amongst the "stellar" aviation safety inspectors (I would normally capitalize that but in this case they don't deserve it) in the BHM FSDO, Alabama, Northwest Florida Flight Standards District Office. Ray was a DPE in Alabama. I was also his POI. To be honest, in the performance of my duties as his POI I was learning as well as checking. He was a retired Colonel or Lt. Colonel, not sure which, a Vice Wing Commander in the Air Guard in Birmingham. That is a refueling unit that formerly flew F-100 and F-4 aircraft but now fly 135's, tankers to us in the civilian world.

    His DPE services (about 30 years of DPE experience) were requested all over the United States by offices that had no qualified inspectors or examiners to perform checks in most corporate jets. He was type rated in many different turbo jet aircraft and gladly supported the FAA mission. He was an outstanding person as well as a most qualified aviator. When I would be doing his check ride he would sometimes correct me on the performance of a maneuver but it never sounded like he was teaching. He just wanted to help me further understand what he did and why he did it. He was really good. I have over 40 years in aviation and he did it right from where I sat.
    I had two bouts of cancer, barely surviving the second. I had my entire stomach removed and took about 18 or 19 months to recover sufficiently to return to work (another expose coming about that process). Shortly after I returned I was questioned by a supervisor within the BHM FSDO, a Mr. Ed Blount (more to come on him as well). He was trying to show that Ray did some check rides in California without permission. I was his POI when that was supposed to have taken place. I remembered the event as I granted him written permission as well as advised the requester in the VNY FSDO of my approval for the three specific applicants. This was sent via e-mail and also entered into Ray's office file. I know because I put it there. I advised the supervisor, Blount, to verify with the VNY FSDO and look into Ray's file. He said that there wasn't anything in his office file pertaining to this authorization, That was a shock as I remember placing the documentation into his file. Surprise, it was no longer there. I don't know what they did next but they stopped investigating this, probably as a result of confirmation of approval by the VNY FSDO.

    But the abuse and targeting of Ray by the FSDO only really became clear when a friend of Ray's from Florida, an instructor at Embry Riddle learned of the attacks against Ray and submitted the following to Ray's attorney. This behind the scenes behavior had apparently been brewing for some time.

    This is a letter that disclosed some of the planned attacks against Ray.

    TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
    THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT IS A SWORN STATEMENT CONCERNING RAY LEDBETTER OF BIRMINGHAM AL.
    DURING THE SUMMER OF 2004 I WAS EMPLOYED AT EMBRY RIDDLE AERONAUTICAL UNIVERSITY IN DAYTONA BEACH FL. MY POSITION WAS MANAGER IN FLIGHT STANDARDS.
    I WAS PART OF A SELECT TEAM THAT HAD BEEN ISSUED AUTHORIZATIONS BY THE FAA FLIGHT STANDARDS TEAM IN FORT WORTH TEXAS TO CONDUCT STANDARDIZATION CHECK RIDES FOR FAA NEW HIRE EMPLOYEES,. CURRENT FAA SAFETY INSPECTORS, AND FAA INSPECTORS TAKING SPECIAL TRAINING, UPSET TRAINING, AT DAYTONA BEACH FL.
    THE CHIEF PILOT OF THE FAA, MIKE CASEY AT THE TIME, AND THE FAA DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS OF THE FAA FLIGHT STANDARDS TEAM IN FORT WORTH TEXAS, EUEL HENRY, HAD DIRECTED ME TO GIVE SPECIAL INSTRUCTION TO FAA SAFETY INSPECTORS IN UPSET TRAINING.
    IN ORDER FOR ME TO BE QUALIFIED TO CONDUCT ANY FAA TRAINING I HAD BEEN GIVEN INTENSIVE TRAINING IN GROUND AND FLIGHT BY THE FAA FLIGHT STANDARDS TEAM AND ULTIMATELY AN ACTUAL FAA 4040-1 ANNUAL CHECK RIDE CONDUCTED BY THE FAA FLIGHT STANDARDS CHECK PILOT TEAM IN BOTH AIRCRAFT, SIMULATOR AND UPSET TRAINING.
    DURING THE SUMMER OF 2004 THE FAA FLIGHT STANDARDS DIRECTOR, EULE HENRY, CALLED ME AND SAID HE WAS SENDING TWO INSPECTORS FROM THE BIRMINGHAM FSDO TO GO THROUGH THE UPSET TRAINING COURSE, PHILLIP FOX AND CLAY PERKINS.
    IT WAS ALWAYS MADE CLEAR TO THE INSPECTORS THAT TOOK ANY TRAINING IN DAYTONA, THAT THE INSTRUCTORS WERE PART OF THE FAA FLIGHT STANDARDS TEAM, THAT THEY REPRESENTED THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF THE FAA AND THAT ALL INSPECTORS WILL TAKE THE INSTRUCTION AND UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES MAKE ANY STATEMENTS ABOUT ANYONE TEACHING THE COURSES, NOR MAKE ANY THREATS EVEN JOKINGLY, ABOUT POSSIBLE ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS AS A RESULT OF THE TRAINING RECEIVED BY ANY INSTRUCTOR!
    EUEL HENRY, DIRECTOR FLIGHT STANDARDS FAA, INTRODUCED PHILIP FOX, AND CLAY PERKINS TO ME ON THE FIRST DAY OF TRAINING, FROM THE BIRMINGHAM FSDO.
    AS IS USUALLY THE CASE WITH ALL PILOTS, WE RELATE PEOPLE WE KNOW FROM AN AREA AND TRY TO MAKE CONNECTIONS VIA MUTUAL FRIENDS.
    I HAD SAID THAT I HAD SEVERAL GOOD FRIENDS IN ALABAMA AND HAD BEEN A US AIRFORCE CONTRACT INSTRUCTOR PILOT IN COLUMBUS MS AND THUS HAD MANY CONTACTS IN THE BIRMINGHAM FSDO AND EXAMINERS THAT WERE FRIENDS.
    AFTER OUR FIRST INSTRUCTIONAL FLIGHT AND WE DEBRIEFED, THE CONVERSATION CAME UP ABOUT FRIENDS AND I MENTIONED RAY LEDBETTER AND THE CLOSE PERSONAL FRIENDSHIP I HAD WITH HIM.
    I EVEN WENT SO FAR AS TO CALL RAY AND LEFT A MESSAGE THAT I HAD MADE CONTACT WITH SOME MUTUAL FRIENDS FROM THE FSDO, PHIL FOX AND CLAY PERKINS.
    I DID THAT RIGHT IN FRONT OF BOTH OF THE INSPECTORS. WHEN I HUNG UP THE PHONE, PHILIP FOX ASKED HOW WELL DID I KNOW RAY LEDBETTER. I ANSWERED THAT I KNEW HIM VERY WELL ON A PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL BASIS AND THAT HE IS ONE OF THE FINEST EXAMINERS I HAVE EVER KNOWN.
    IT WAS AT THIS POINT THAT PHILIP FOX JUST BLURTED OUT” I AM GOING TO TAKE RAY LEDBETTER DOWN” I WAS SHOCKED AT THE STATEMENT AND ASKED WHY. FOX RESPONDED WITH “HE’S BEEN GETTING AWAY WITH STUFF FOR WAY TO LONG” I INQUIRED AGAIN WHAT STUFF? RAY IS SOMEONE WHO WOULD NEVER EVER INTENTIONALLY VIOLATE NOR BREAK ANY RULES REGULATIONS WHATSOEVER AND TO THIS I SWEAR!
    PHILIP FOX SAID” I AM PERSONALLY GOING TO MAKE SURE HE IS REMOVED FROM BEING AN EXAMINER, IF IT’S THE LAST THING I DO” I WAS TOTALLY SHOCKED AT WHAT I HAD JUST HEARD, NOT ONLY BECAUSE OF THE TONE, CONTENT, AND INTENT BUT THAT HE WOULD MENTION IT TO ME A NON FAA EMPLOYEE.
    I EVEN WENT SO FAR AS TO MENTION IT TO EULE HENRY THE FAA FLIGHT STANDARDS CHIEF, TO WHICH HE REPLIED: THOSE TWO ARE KNOWN AS TROUBLE MAKERS IN THE BIRMINGHAM FSDO WHICH IS WHY THEY WERE SENT DOWN HERE TO KEEP THEM OUT OF THE WAY, DON’T TAKE WHAT THEY SAY WITH ANYTHING BUT A GRAIN OF SALT”.

    Continued in Part Two
  2. Edward Jeszka

    Edward Jeszka Hangar Silver Member V

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    Please read part one then continue to part two. The thread was too long to enter into one document. Sorry about that.
    Ed Jeszka

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