Why wasn’t Pilot Field McConnell invited to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations hearings?

Update: “FAA is still ignoring the warnings”: Who the Aviation Subcommittee WON’T call to testify

by Examiner Staff Writer
Washington Examiner

On Wednesday, June 17 at 10 a.m., the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security chaired by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-MN, will continue its hearing on: “Aviation Safety: The Role and Responsibility of Commercial Air Carriers and Employees.”

Here’s who’s on the witness list:

  • Jim May, president and CEO, Air Transport Association of America
  • Roger Cohen, president, Regional Airline Association;
  • Capt. John Prater, president, Airline Pilots Association, International;
  • Scott Maurer, representative of the Families of Continental Flight 3407.

Here’s who’s NOT on the witness list:

  • Capt. Dan Hanley, who was medically grounded from United Airlines in 2003 after turning in a federally mandated report about pilot fatigue issues – the same issues the heads of both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board now consider to be a major factor in the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in Buffalo – which their agencies have been ignoring for six years.
  • Captain Newton Dickson, a former Continental pilot with thousands of hours of experience flying B 757s who was medically grounded five years ago for taking over the controls when the automatic system in the plane he was co-piloting malfunctioned and overshot its landing coordinates, preventing a possible crash.
  • Capt. Field McConnell, a former Northwest pilot with 23,000 hours of naval and commercial aviation experience, who was medically terminated after he refused to fly illegally modified Boeing 737s and is in the process of suing the pilots’ union (McConnell v. ALPA, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia) for allegedly not following its own grievance procedures and not backing him up when the airline attempted to use a non-FAA certified psychiatrist “known…for disqualifying pilots” to evaluate his mental condition.

Below are letters to Sen. Dorgan by Dickson and McConnell, offering to testify:

Dear [Commerce Committee chairman] Senator Rockefeller,
(cc Sen. Dorgan)

I read with much interest your letter to the DOT’s Inspector General, The Honorable Calvin L. Scovel, III dated May 18, 2009 posted on your committee’s website.

I am an officer with the Transportation Security Administration, Department of Homeland Security, at Houston Hobby Airport. Prior to going to work for the TSA, I had been a pilot for Continental Airlines for 17 years, when, in 2004, I had a severe problem regarding another pilot and safety issues in flight. Without going into the details now, I’ll just say I was subjected to a hostile work environment and then complained, first to my employer and later to the FAA, about both physical and verbal abuse in flight.

In retaliation for my safety complaints, Continental paid its medical consultant $200 per hour to create a false and malicious medical report about what happened during the flight, stating I was not conscious at times, and then to lobby the FAA, which grounded me for my “condition,” even though there was never any medical evidence of it. The principle allegation against me was even denied, via affidavit, by the pilot about whom I complained. However, I’m still grounded five years later as a result of “doing the right thing.” i.e. attempting to protect the public safety by expressing my legitimate concerns.

I hereby offer to testify before your subcommittee when it meets on June 17, 2009 about how the airlines abuse the FAA’s medical certification process of airline pilots to punish those pilots when they make legitimate complaints about air safety. This is done with the assistance of certain individuals within the FAA, whom I’ll name then. I’ll even wear my TSA uniform to show, in no uncertain terms, precisely what can happen to an airline pilot as a result of his (or her) complaints. This has been done many times before, and must be stopped now – before more airplanes crash and more lives are lost.

Please contact me at your earliest convenience if I can be of any assistance in this matter, and to let me know if you’ll allow me to address the subcommittee.

Newton R. Dickson
Former 757 Continental pilot
Houston, TX

Dear Senator Dorgan,

In addition to the United, Delta and Continental whistleblowing pilots, please add my voice as a 29-year Northwest Captain who was wrongfully terminated after relating specific and credible information regarding the hull losses of UA175 and AA77.

Specifically, I noted illegal modifications to Boeings, the same illegal modifications and export violations that resulted in a $615M settlement paid by Boeing to USDOJ in June, 2006.  My warnings to NWA, ALPA, DOD and FBI on 12-11-06 fell on deaf ears and on 1-1-07 Adam Air 574 (B737) was ‘vaporized’ in a manner consistent with my written warning.  I wrote a personal letter to FBI Director Mueller on 2-13-07, again, deaf ears.

On 5-5-07 Kenya Airways (B737) was ‘vaporized’ in a manner consistent with my warning.  In the interim, between vaporizations, I was wrongfully terminated from Northwest Airlines after being scheduled to have an assessment with Dr. Elliott of Los Angeles, the same Dr. Elliott that United, Delta and Continental have used to ‘silence’ whistleblowing pilots.

We, the whistleblowing pilots, are compelled by FAR 121.533 to not operate any aircraft if we have safety concerns regarding that aircraft.  Further, for the majority of the pilots of our experience level we have taken oaths of office when in the military to defend the US against all enemies; foreign and domestic.

Korean 007, UA175, AA77, Adam Air 574, Kenya 507, Colgan 3407, Air France 447.  When is enough enough?  Many pilots are blowing their whistles, is anyone in Washington listening?  In as much as the lengthening list of hull losses has not been sufficient to whet the appetite of Washington to investigate perhaps by revealing more of the technologies employed we can gain some focus:

1) Boeing Uninterruptible Autopilot
2) QRS11 GyroChip
3) SMACsonic
4) KU Band

The public was first told of the Boeing Uninterruptible Autopilot on 3 March, 2007, four days after I filed Civil Case 3:07-cv-24. The QRS11 GyroChip was a subject of the $615M payment from Boeing to USDOJ in June, 2006.  The four technologies listed above will be discussed in Chapter 9 of the online book [I am writing] that is tracking aviation safety in real time and this letter, in its entirety, including individuals addressed herein, will also be published in that book.

ALPA has suggested in writing that a certain whistleblower pilot is ‘troubled’.  Had ALPA, FBI, DOJ and the airlines taken a different approach perhaps the hull losses to Adam Air, Kenya Airways and Air France could have been prevented.

With grave concern,

Lt. Col. Field McConnell (US Navy-Retired)
Glyndon, MN


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