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May 14, 2012

A Lesson in Babbitt's Just Culture

Once upon a time, the FAA was led by Russ Chew, Hank Krakowski, Randy Babbitt. They're all gone now, having shuffled off after their.. well, accomplishments... but they've left their programs and buzz-themes in place for the attorneys and non-aviators to administer. One of their big programs was the "just culture", a social structure based on integrity, trust, respect and confidence.
  • Babbitt resigns as FAA head days after arrest on drunk driving charge
    Aware that the Fairfax City police are required to make public DWI arrests of public officials, Babbitt made what may be his final flight at the controls of an airplane Monday morning.

    Babbitt and an FAA pilot boarded an FAA Cessna Citation designated as “November 2” and flew out of Reagan National Airport. With Babbitt in the co-pilot’s seat, the plane flew for hours, returning in early afternoon as news of his arrest became public.
  • Randy Babbitt: The Second Reason He Needed to Resign
    • surprised the boss
    • took the company jet out for one more day

  • Drunk Driving Charges Dismissed Against Former FAA Chief Randy Babbitt.
    Key line: A prosecutor said in court that later tests showed Babbitt exceeding the legal limit, but the case was dismissed before that evidence was presented. “I’m happy to have it behind me,” Babbitt said afterward. “Candidly, it’s been a tough time.”

    Babbitt said Thursday that he was not sorry that he had resigned and that he had no ill will toward the officer who arrested him. Babbitt said he planned to work in aviation consulting.

Russ and Hank have become value-adding advisors to the indu$try that profits from their programs. Randy certainly is gracious in not having any ill will toward the police officer who kick-started his transition into the same sort of lucrative prostitution employment. edit: correction, h/t Anon


Anonymous said...

It was Randy without the ill will, not Hank.

The local coverage made it pretty clear that Babbitt didn't make an illegal turn and the Fairfax City's finest had no good reason for the stop. After the stop Babbitt blew below the legal limit, but was kept in the hopes he could be tested again and again until they got something to use, which I understand is widely done in Northern Virginia. And in Virginia you can not refuse a sobriety test or tests. The judge, who I believe I have seen in action, is the fairest and most reasonable judge you could ask for. Not a bleeding heart or pushover, but fair.

As for N-2 it is flown many days for maintaining proficiency for the flight standards folks and for testing, so whether the Administrator flew it or Joe Dokes did doesn't matter much.

And yes this is anonymous because I work there and believe Chew should have stuck with his dentist office and Hank should go back under whatever rock lawyers live under when they aren't being .......lawyers...

Vannevar said...

Thanks for the correction (Randy vs Hank), and also for your comment. We need good judges, I'm glad to hear about this.

My objection to him flying N2 is this: once he was charged with DUI he should never have gotten into the cockpit. Any subordinate who flew a corporate(govt) aircraft with an unreported DUI would face discipline.

As the executive who sets an example, it's bereft of leadership and judgement (something we expect of pilots and executives). He compromised all standards.

I get the temptation to fly a jet one more day, for what might be the last time. You're right that Joe Doakes or Pete Pilot, it doesn't matter - unless they had a DUI over the weekend. Just my misinformed, inchoate opinion.

And finally, I'm glad that a rich white guy got off based on a videotape challenge to a police officer's assertion; we need more of that.

Cheers, V.

Joe said...

Police officers in neighboring jurisdictions assure me that Fairfax City cops are a joke. Never had the pleasure, myself.

Anonymous said...

As best I can understand the FAA regulations a pilot has 60 days to report the DUI and any administrative action. He/She must also report it if there is a new medical applied for. It appears one DUI arrest seldom results in taking the pilot's license, but it seems it is case by case. So flying the next day without reporting it to the Administrator (Duh, himself) is not grounds for anything. Him not getting right in there to report to his administrative boss the Secretary of Transportation was maybe not exactly legally required but was poor poor tactically. You get in more trouble for hiding something than you get into for doing the something most times.

We are also assuming that Mr. Babbitt acted as pilot in command or a required crew member. If someone else was PIC and he wasn't required crew he wasn't exercising his license, so no runs not hits no errors. I don't recall how N-2 is operated, but they usually have a full pilot and copilot and people in the jump seat and in back to swap out with the pilot and copilot so the max number of people get their proficiency flying.

Brave New World said...

Memorable mantras from the "just" culture -

1 "Sometimes a little intimidation goes a long way."
2 "We do the right thing even when no one is looking."
3 "There are many truths. There is your truth and there is my truth."
4 "It was wrong then and it is wrong now. We need to move on."
5 " This is terrorism!"

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