More Protection?

More Protection? FAR 193 By Stephen P. Prentice September 2001 Author’s Note: In AMT July 2001, we talked about the Whistleblower protection statute that insulates employees from reprisal when reporting air carrier or repair...


Exceptions
The regulation provides specific instances when disclosure can be made (193.9) under any self-disclosure program:
1. To explain the need for changes in policy and regulation
2. To correct a condition that compromises safety or security
3. To carry out a criminal investigation
4. To address threats to civil aviation
There is nothing said in the rule regarding the release of relevant parts of protected information to process airman or air carrier certificate actions, especially as they relate to possible criminal prosecution.
Again, in regard to court proceedings, new Section 193.7 says that if FAA receives a subpoena for protected information, it will not release such information unless ordered to do so by a court of competent jurisdiction. So, notwithstanding all the protective language, a court still has the final say regarding release of protected information. In the Cali case, that Court ordered release of sensitive information.
Finally, disclosures may be made when it is consistent with FAA’s safety and security responsibilities. In the words of the regulation:
"... the Administrator may find that there are additional circumstances under which withholding information provided voluntarily—would not be consistent with the Administrator’s safety and security responsibilities."

This final section of the rule is obviously very broad and gives the Administrator wide latitude to disclose anything. The simplicity of the law (49 USC 40123) cited above, seems lost in FAR 193. Only time will tell if it will be effective and if the air carriers will buy it.
Many will conclude that the language of the regulation makes air carrier information about as secure as a rowboat in a hurricane! Read FAR 193 and let me know what you think.

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