Filing a Complaint With Local FSDO?

Discussion in 'Maintenance Bay' started by SoCal 182 Driver, Oct 21, 2022.

  1. SoCal 182 Driver

    SoCal 182 Driver Line Up and Wait

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    Friends -

    I'm having two G5s installed in my plane. The encoder will be removed, and altitude encoding will come from one of the G5s. As the avionics guy was working on removing the encoder, he found this:

    pitot-static problem.jpg
    The pitot-static system has not been touched since it was inspected and certified in March, 2021. Needless to say, I'm not a happy camper.

    When I confronted the guy who did the pitot-static inspection, he denied that this was his handiwork. But, as the owner of the plane, I know for certain that the pitot-static system has not been touched since the 2021 inspection. This means one of two things - (a) as he was testing for leaks he forgot to put the system back together, or (b) this was there before he started his work, and he missed it. Given that he charged me for new sump bottles, I can't imagine he would have missed this during his inspection, since it is, literally, touching the sump bottle.

    As I mentioned above, when I emailed the guy who did the work, he denied it was his, and basically blew me off. I would like to file a complaint with the local FSDO. Can anyone tell me what the process is for filing a complaint?

    Thanks.
     
  2. brcase

    brcase En-Route

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    I wouldn't report it. What would you expect them to do? It is basically a he said, she said situation. The Mechanic says it wasn't that way when he signed it off. You say it hasn't been touched since. How do either one of you prove it?

    If you report it, the FAA will investigate and the are quite good at it. They won't be able to prove anything about this event. But they will likely audit the Mechanic's shop records to make sure he is a least filing the paper work correctly and make a spot inspection of what ever he is currently working. The will also want to see (audit) your aircraft records, After all they need look for any evidence that maintenance was not performed properly. If they find something else you will likely be on the hook for that also. I know of one event where they found the wrong propeller was installed on the airplane costing the owner the cost of a new prop.

    Do what you just did. Let the shop know and see how they handle it. Get it fixed. Decide if you want to continue using and or recommending the shop.

    Brian
     
  3. SoCal 182 Driver

    SoCal 182 Driver Line Up and Wait

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    The question the FSDO would have to ask is this: "What possible motivation does the plane owner have to report the situation?" In other words, why would I fabricate? I have nothing against the guy who did the work (at least until this situation arose). I thought the work was done properly, paid the man, and sent him on his way, only to find out 18 months later that the work was sub-standard.

    It's a one-man operation. When I sent him the picture he denied it was his handiwork, and basically told me to go pound sand.
     
  4. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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  5. guest user

    guest user Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That is, unfortunately, not how that works.

    From experience responding to he said / she said complaints, you get side A's story, you get side B's story and you go from there. Side A does not get a pass just because they reported it. You'd be surprised how many times people report things that are not QUITE the way they are presented. While I am not, read carefully, NOT saying you're making this up, or that you're not justified in wanting to report it, I am saying to not expect your version to be treated as gospel right off the bat. The burden of proof is on the FSDO, and they'll be coming to you to investigate/substantiate your claim. As stated above, sometimes that investigation leads to interesting places.

    When it comes to getting the law (in the case the FSDO) involved, be aware of unintended consequences. Kinda like the old (and current) stories of people who report speeding in their neighborhood and then are cited themselves. Just because they reported others for speeding at higher speeds than they were doing doesn't exempt them for being cited for speeding.
     
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  6. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    Seems like a mountain is being made out of a molehill at this point. The problem was caught and presumably will be addressed. From what I’ve seen, calling and complaining to the FSDO doesn’t seem to generate much response.

    Id probably expend the energy you’re devoting to the static port on the spot of corrosion on the rib in the photo instead.
     
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  7. Plano Pilot

    Plano Pilot Line Up and Wait

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    18 months is a long time. Airplane should have been through an annual and probably had other work done to it, who did it??? Get a new inspection and go down the road.
     
  8. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Is your house clean?
     
  9. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Is your house clean?
     
  10. Walboy

    Walboy Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Good catch!
     
  11. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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    wrestle with a pig.....and no one wins. o_O
     
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  12. Daleandee

    Daleandee En-Route

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    True ... but the pig likes it and gets you down in the mud too!
     
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  13. PaulMillner

    PaulMillner Line Up and Wait

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    Based on several experiences, the FSDO will inspect your plane from stem to stern, and cite many, many things they think need to be done better before further flight.

    They will then conclude there's no proof the static system guy did a bad thing, so he gets off.

    Complain to the FSDO only if you dislike yourself.

    Paul
     
  14. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Makes you wonder what else is getting pencil whipped…
     
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  15. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 En-Route

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    My last pitot static I stayed to assist the guy thinking it might be a little cheaper.
    He ended up charging me 100 more than my buddy who had just had his done the month before. We laughed and said it must of been because with someone watching he had to really do the work.
     
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  16. Magman

    Magman Cleared for Takeoff

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    Guano occurs!
    I’ll stand on the not reporting side.

    Also wondering what happened to the nut?
    Could it have been inadvertently pulled off during maintenance or loading pax?
    Since it would have had an Annual the feds may want to stop in there as well. This is normally several hours or even days of “ Surveillance”. The Aviation Community is small and word of your action will spread rapidly. No one HAS to work on your aircraft!

    Your case would not be a good example but I’ve seen folks report issues that rendered the aircraft Un- Airworthy. The feds may agree and then cite the pilot for flying an Un-Airworthy aircraft!

    One of the biggest traps is the paperwork. Common for Techs to say ; “I’ll do the entries tomorrow”. That may not happen. Folks have been frustrated and “ Steal” their own aircraft. Of course there are oil leaks, mag drops etc. When the wheels are one inch off the ground the pilot is in violation.Guess how this goes.

    I doubt if the feds will want to pursue this with no real proof.
     
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  17. Bell206

    Bell206 Final Approach

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    [​IMG]
     
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  18. Albany Tom

    Albany Tom Pattern Altitude

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    If it were my plane, my first thought would be along the lines of "I wonder what else might be wrong?"
     
  19. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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    This is why it's good to have a different shop do your maintenance every couple years.
     
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  20. RyanB

    RyanB Super Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    You’d just do a hotline complaint. That said, I’m with the gang on this one. It’s been a year since it was last inspected. It’s pretty difficult to prove the last guy caused it at this point. If you caught it before or right after leaving the shop, it might be a different story. I’d just scratch his name off your list of contacts and find someone else.
     
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  21. AA5Bman

    AA5Bman Line Up and Wait

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    Speaking as someone who is currently tangling with the FAA, I would strongly advise you not to voluntarily start a tangle with the FAA. They are petty bureaucrats who will make your life a mess and enjoy doing it, even if you are not the target of their investigation and have done nothing wrong. Ask me how I know. Actually, don’t, because I can’t talk about it…
     
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  22. Magman

    Magman Cleared for Takeoff

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    Some folks don’t realize that that some non-aircraft portions of the FAA Investigation is done by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They do things like getting motel receipts and talking to neighbors, etc.
     
  23. Kristin

    Kristin Pattern Altitude

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    My guess, from experience, is that the best case scenario is that the FSDO does nothing. Worst case is they start crawling over your plane, find stuff they think is wrong, and then don't do anything to the other guy.
     
  24. mryan75

    mryan75 Pattern Altitude

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    If you want to file a complaint with the FSDO, call or email the FSDO. I’ve done it twice via email and got a call the next day.
     
  25. donjohnston

    donjohnston Pattern Altitude

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    So you want to tell the FAA that you've been flying an aircraft that isn't airworthy? ;)
     
  26. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    buh buh buh cErTiFiEd hands....:rolleyes:
     
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  27. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I would think twice before filing a complaint.unless you have pictures when the work was completed it would be tough to prove your case. Better to pass the word in the community on what you believe and find another mechanic.
     
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  28. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Nothing good will come from complaining. It’s like picking up a rattlesnake and throwing it at the guy. Probably more likely that you get bit since you’re picking up the snake.
     
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  29. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Understand that in the eyes of the FSDO, you, as owner/operator, are the one who "missed it" and they will act accordingly. And when they act, it will be with the zeal of a federal critter who was forced to do work against their will, with significant authority and power to make your life miserable, and possibly who has been doing the same TPS reports for the last 5 years and you are the first interesting morsel to come across their desk.

    The very idea of what awaits you if you complain should send a chill down your spine.

    If you wish to persist, at least file an ASRS on this situation before snitching anything to the feds. Then you can at least preserve your flying privileges with your compliant attitude.
     
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  30. BoButt

    BoButt Pre-Flight

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    Good chance the FSDO WILL cite you for flying an unairworthy aircraft. As far as they are concerned it is a civil matter. You hired an inept technician. However, it would seem the technician you should be concerned about is whoever missed or left it in that condition at the annual. And, if you do go to the FSDO, the word will get around and good luck getting anyone to work on your plane.
     
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  31. Joe_B1

    Joe_B1 Line Up and Wait

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    Do not bring the government into your life, they will screw you. I can't make it plainer than that. Don't do it!
     
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  32. Magman

    Magman Cleared for Takeoff

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    Still trying to figure out how the line is disconnected. Broken off?
    Where did the nut go?
     
  33. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    To me It looks like the static line was disconnected at the bottle and a union plus a short segment of tube added. I’d bet that was the adapter used to connect the tester to. Assuming that is what it is, the last person performing the static check probably got distracted or was in a hurry and forgot to reconnect the line before they started putting things away.
     
  34. Magman

    Magman Cleared for Takeoff

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    That makes sense.
     
  35. donjohnston

    donjohnston Pattern Altitude

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    Most likely the plane has two static ports and the test set is connected to the other side. The one pictured is capped off.

    If that was the only static port, you would notice it the first time you tried to fly.
     
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  36. kmacht

    kmacht Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Lots of people on here saying that making a report is going to get you in trouble but I’m also noticing that not one of those people saying that have given any specific examples of actual personal experience from doing the same. Just lots of “it’s a bad idea”. If it were me I I would report it. Yes, this miss wasn’t the end of the world but what if it had been something more major or what if another plane had crashed because of something this guy worked on. You would then hear those same people on here saying that “there were warning signs” and “somebody should have said something”. Not much will likely come out of just you reporting him but if there were other reports before or more reports in the future it would establish a pattern and likely make them start looking into what’s actually going on. If you do report it and they happen to find something else wrong with your plan during a investigation wouldn’t you want to have known there was something wrong anyways? Not every FSDO or FAA employee is a jerk who is out to get you.
     
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  37. guest user

    guest user Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Agreed. a lot of employees, especially the newer ones (as in time employed, not generationally) tend to be more of the "I really want to help!" variety. Exposure to the general public tends to cure this very quickly.

    However, let's think about this.

    Do you think there are more "Dude, that sucks, let's jump on this right away and get you fixed up!" types or more of the jaded, rule following, "That's what you say, what does your airplane and the other guy say?" types in the FAA pool you'll be connected with? Yeah, me too.

    But let's say you get a friendly sort. Unless this is a one man show, that person will be contacting other employees. How many jaded employees need to be involved for it to turn to a "yeah, static port was disconnected, but what about these other violations that we found while looking into it? There may be some ambiguity about the static port, but not these others; that guy is trying to pull a fast one!"

    Again, COULD reporting this guy work out to be the best thing you've ever done? Sure. You could be the next big whistleblower and get news interviews, your face on magazines, give inspiring speeches about how you went against all the nay sayers, but look at you now. (slight exaggeration, I know)

    But, could it take a turn for the lesser good outcome? Absolutely.

    Is the reward worth the gamble? I'd vote no. But, if you choose to vote yes, let us know how it went. If you become the hero don't doubt that I'll find some speaking gig where I can tell my story of being a naysayer but through your experience learning that rainbows and unicorns exist and I am a better person for it. (For the right speaking fee, I might learn to sob a little)
     
  38. kmacht

    kmacht Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Why would you not want to know if there are other violations? If they find other things wrong as part of an investigation then why would you not want to know about them so you can get get the fixed or addressed? Do you really want to be flying around in a plane that has things wrong with it that were not caught during an inspection because your mechanic was pencil whipping things?
     
  39. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You should call em....and volunteer for the colonoscopy. o_O

    I can guarantee that any aircraft can be grounded for one thing or another....if examined closely.
     
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  40. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    Yea, much better to just suck it it up and let private business screw you over.