Report critical of FAA oversight at ValuJet
Report says official 'falsified' job application
May 11, 1997
WASHINGTON (CNN)--- A Federal Aviation Administration official assigned to oversee ValuJet Airlines' maintenance had falsified his job application and wasn't familiar with aircraft operations, CNN has learned.
That revelation is contained in a 122-page report by the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General, which evaluated the FAA's supervision of ValuJet after Flight 592 plunged into the Florida Everglades.
The DC-9 went down a year ago Sunday after fire erupted in the cargo hold. All 110 people on board were killed.
A source familiar with the inspector general's report told CNN that officials with the National Transportation Safety Board began questioning the qualifications of FAA inspector David J. Harper during hearings held several months ago in Miami. The board asked for further background information on Harper, who oversaw ValuJet maintenance from September 1994 to August 1995.
The April 3 report quoted nine FAA inspectors as saying Harper did not have enough civilian aviation experience to properly oversee ValuJet maintenance. They said he didn't understand terminology and had no idea how to evaluate ValuJet's maintenance problems, the source told CNN.
Four of the inspectors said they told their supervisors of Harper's "lack of general knowledge of aircraft operations," the source said.
The report said Harper's FAA personnel files "disclosed that he falsified his civil experience as an aircraft mechanic" on his FAA application.
Harper could not immediately be reached for comment. But in a June 26, 1996, interview with investigators, Harper denied he lied about his experience or was hired because of preferential treatment.
He said he did not know what he could have done differently in ValuJet's oversight, the inspector general's report said.CNN Correspondent Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.
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