Systemic Failure

I just read this article about the F-22 Raptor pilots and watched the ’60 Minutes’ segment associated with it. As someone who has F-22s fly over their house daily, it is a bit disconcerting to hear how pilots of these extremely expensive and amazing machines fear for their own safety and the safety of those on the ground. I had heard it briefly mentioned on the news here in Honolulu that they had been grounded for a bit and that now they were back in service, but I really hadn’t made an effort to stay on top of the situation. Now though, I am very much aware.

Most things like this catch my attention. I truly do feel for the pilots who are doing the whistle blowing on this. It’s hard when you work for the government, to get protection against the government, from the government. Did that make any sense? Because with governmental whistle blowing, you are asking the government to protect you from the government. How neutral do you think the Office of Special Counsel can be? Especially on something so high profile and valuable like the F-22. It’s like how most governmental agencies don’t really meet OSHA standards, because one agency fining another over violations is almost comical. Money going from one pocket to another basically.

It’s also typical of our government not to acknowledge some sort of failure for fear of embarrassment. These pilots risk their lives constantly for our national defense, yet giving them the best possible chance to minimize that risk is apparently not cost effective or embarrassing for the Air Force. What happens if an F-22 comes down in a populated area?

I guess the government would rather see more pilots crash than take the plane back to Lockheed Martin/Boeing and say fix this! How many deaths will it take to correct the problem? It’s a $412 million dollar plane, I think we can ask for some warranty work. We would be furious if this were a car from a major manufacturer. We grounded it once before and didn’t fix anything. Why can’t we ground it again? Is it because of the pressing need to win the large amount of dogfights we are having in the skies over Iraq and Afghanistan? I’m pretty sure our F-15/16/18/JSF can hold down the fort for a year or so while they get it all straight after a thorough shake down.

Our government does this all the time. For some reason being embarrassed outweighs all other considerations. We are too proud to admit a mistake whether it be in grounding an aircraft for safety reasons or not tracking bailout money or being wrong in our reasons to go to war. What makes me proud though is that we had two pilots willing to put it all on the line, just like they do everyday, to do the right thing in exposing a serious problem. It may be embarrassing, but I would rather be embarrassed now than demand these pilots fly unsafe equipment and have a death on my conscience. I get it, no one wants to be embarrassed. I’m guilty of sometimes not admitting my mistakes* as well, though my mistakes aren’t costing people their lives.

Hopefully with this ’60 Minutes’ exposure it will bring about the right course of action from those in charge. Otherwise, “pride goeth before the fall”.

* Reminder to self – Do a better job of admitting mistakes.

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