Whistleblower reports Cleveland airport snow and ice problems to FAA

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

CLEVELAND-- The latest complaint against Cleveland Hopkins International Airport comes from the same man whose 2015 whistleblowing resulted in stiff fines from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Former airfield manager Abdul Malik-Ali sent an internal airport memo to the FAA following problems experienced by airport snow removal crews on Dec. 30.

The memo from the airport's airfield maintenance manager outlines a list of issues, like poor communication, poor leadership by supervisors and even a lack of coordination of crews that led to three trucks running off the runway. Ali's attorney said that's not all.

"On January 10th, they failed to put down the liquid deicing chemical even though they had plenty of warning from the weather service that freezing rain was coming," attorney Subodh Chandra said. "As a result, flights were diverted, couldn't land at Hopkins and flights were canceled, and again the traveling public is in jeopardy."

Chandra said they've alerted the FAA to what they call continuing problems with airfield maintenance at the airport. The city of Cleveland has said in the past it has gone to great lengths to better train workers, coordinate snow and ice removal, and even purchased new snow removal equipment to be more efficient.

But Chandra said his client maintains the city is still doing a terrible job of clearing runways and organizing crews. He said Ali continues to be punished for speaking up.

"We are also confident that the FAA will take these current allegations seriously. If nothing else, they're admitted to in a memo from Robert Henderson, the current field maintenance supervisor. All we can hope is the administration will change its attitude that the new airport director Robert Kennedy and mayor (Frank) Jackson will understand you don't punish an employee who's reporting safety concerns," Chandra said.

In a statement, new Cleveland Hopkins International Airport Robert Kennedy said

"I am continuing my discussions with staff to gain a better understanding of the issues outlined in the memo and I am committed to fully review the process, policies, resources and personnel qualifications involved.

"Teams responsible for the winter weather operations have been subject to months of training and we must assure verification of the application of the training principles in the field.

"Safety has always been and always will be our top priority, and we reiterate that we have always operated a safe airfield environment."

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport