FAA finds Alaska Airlines supervisor gave false record

Posted: Friday, September 08, 2000

SEATTLE (AP) -- The Federal Aviation Administration has found that an Alaska Airlines supervisor falsified an aircraft-maintenance record, but an attempt to take away his mechanic's license has been stayed because he filed an appeal, The Seattle Times reported.

John E. Nanney, a California-based maintenance supervisor, has filed an appeal with an administrative law judge. Alaska Airlines spokesman Jack Evans said Nanney continues to work as a supervisor because he still holds his license.

The finding is not related to the deadly Jan. 31 crash of Alaska Flight 261 off the coast of California, in which 88 people died.

The FAA found that Nanney falsely stated that a throttle problem on an MD-80 jetliner had been fixed, the Times reported. The incident occurred Dec. 1, 1998 at the maintenance facility in Oakland, Calif.

Alaska Airlines' maintenance practices are the target of three federal investigations.

Nanney's attorney, Steven Bauer of San Francisco, said Nanney will get a chance to argue his case in an impartial setting. He has appealed to the administrative court of the National Transportation Safety Board and a hearing will be held next year.

''John stands 100 percent behind his work as a supervisor,'' Bauer said Thursday. ''We think it's just plain wrong that the FAA is trying to take away his license, and we hope the judge agrees.''

Nanney's license was ordered revoked June 15, but the FAA didn't publicly disclose the action because of privacy rules. The Times obtained a copy of the order Thursday from the administrative court to which Nanney has appealed.

The FAA is still reviewing the cases of two other Alaska supervisors in Oakland who are accused of falsifying maintenance records in 1998, as well as a proposed $44,000 fine against the airline for failing to follow federal regulations.

The cases stem from allegations by John Liotine, a lead mechanic for Alaska who became a whistle-blower in late 1998.

Liotine contended that Nanney had failed to correct throttles that were running with excessively different settings. Such a problem, called a throttle split, is a discrepancy between adjustments of the two engines' throttle levers, which control the flow of fuel to the engines. A severe throttle split can affect a plane's thrust, which can lead to an aborted takeoff or in-flight difficulties.

The National Transportation Safety Board is probing the crash of Alaska Flight 261, which crashed into the Pacific Ocean on a flight from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to San Francisco Jan. 31, killing all aboard.

A federal grand jury, aided by the FBI, is investigating practices at Alaska's heavy maintenance base, in Oakland, Calif.

In June, the Federal Aviation Administration found 150 cases of improper maintenance documentation in an audit. The maintenance in every case had actually been done.



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