DIA de-icers retrained after instructor caught telling them answers
November 20, 2007
DENVER ” Workers hired to de-ice planes for many airlines at Denver International Airport are being retrained after a television station aired footage of an instructor giving some applicants the answers to required written exams.
The instructor worked for Servisair USA, a contractor that de-ices planes for all carriers at the airport except for United Airlines. Together, those airlines account for about half the flights in and out of Denver, the nation’s fourth-busiest airport.
Servisair trains the de-icers and gives them tests provided by the airlines. KCNC-TV in Denver said one of its employees went undercover to apply for a de-icing job with Servisair and then secretly taped some of the training.
The video showed an instructor giving applicants the answers to multiple-choice and written test questions, as well as telling them how to spell the word “hail” and where to put commas.
Dino Noto, vice president and general counsel for Servisair in Houston, said Tuesday the instructor was fired after an internal investigation.
He said he did not know how many workers were involved but said it was fewer than 500. Only employees who have been retrained will be able to work, he said.
Recommended Stories For You
Noto said other employees besides trainers were also disciplined, but he wouldn’t disclose details.
Servisair provides a variety of services at airports elsewhere in the United States and in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa, but Noto said the training issue was “an isolated incident only in Denver.”
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Mike Fergus said workers have been retrained under the supervision of the FAA or Frontier Airlines, which contacted the FAA about the findings of the investigation.
Denver-based Frontier is one of the airlines Servisair provides de-icing services for.
FAA offices that oversee airlines with Servisair contracts have been notified of what happened in Denver, and the agency is reviewing Servisair records and Frontier’s oversight records, Fergus said.
He said airlines are responsible for getting FAA approval for their maintenance plans, which include de-icing, and then making sure those plans are followed. The FAA sets benchmarks for what de-icers should know but doesn’t certify them, Fergus said.
He said the FAA rarely inspects de-icing training sessions unless it receives reports that something is wrong.
Frontier spokesman Steve Snyder said Servisair has been responsive and the airline has confidence in the company.
“We will stay in constant communication with Servisair to make sure everything continues to run smoothly,” Snyder said.
Servisair also provides fueling, snow removal, cargo and ground handling services. It works for most major U.S. airlines but doesn’t do de-icing for all of them, Noto said.
He said Servisair’s other airline clients were notified about what happened in Denver, and its trainers in the United States and Canada were reminded of the company’s safety training standards.
One segment KCNC broadcast showed the instructor telling applicants to intentionally make mistakes on the test for Continental Airlines because the airline carefully checks the answers and might be suspicious if they were all correct.
In a written statement, Continental spokesman Dave Messing said Servisair has told the company about changes it has made in its training.
“We are confident that their efforts, combined with our ongoing oversight, will provide safe and effective deicing for our flights at Denver,” he said.
Federal investigator said inadequate de-icing contributed to a November 1987 crash of a Continental Airlines plane on takeoff from Denver that killed 28 people.