Broken Wings: Both Current and Former Employees of DynCorp, One of the Federal Government's Largest Contractors, Have Accused the Company of Taking a Fly-by-Night Attitude toward Maintenance of Military Aircraft. (Cover Story)

By O'Meara, Kelly Patricia | Insight on the News, April 29, 2002 | Go to article overview

Broken Wings: Both Current and Former Employees of DynCorp, One of the Federal Government's Largest Contractors, Have Accused the Company of Taking a Fly-by-Night Attitude toward Maintenance of Military Aircraft. (Cover Story)


O'Meara, Kelly Patricia, Insight on the News


Blowing the whistle on outrageous moral and ethical misbehavior by employees of one of the federal government's biggest and most profitable contractors is serious business. But when complaints are raised by employees of that same contractor about the safety and quality of work on which American lives depend, the issue inches up a few notches to deadly serious.

While INSIGHT expected to receive feedback concerning its Feb. 4 cover story, "DynCorp Disgrace," this magazine could not have anticipated the number of DynCorp employees who would seize the opportunity to voice alarm and express concern about what they say is their company's shaky performance on government contracts. As one employee put it, "There has been a dramatic drop in experience and competence, replaced by ignorance, inexperience and downright unsafe maintenance practices."

Surprisingly, rather than responding to allegations made by Ben Johnston, a former DynCorp employee who blew the whistle on fellow employees he accused of being involved in sex trafficking of young girls in Bosnia, and which was the focus of the "DynCorp Disgrace" article, most of the communications from current and former DynCorp employees addressed his briefly expressed concern about the quality of work being performed by DynCorp on military aircraft.

One issue Johnston raised involved a DynCorp maintenance technician in Bosnia who, according to Johnston, "weighed 400 pounds and would stick cheeseburgers in his pockets and eat them while he worked. The problem was he literally would fall asleep every five minutes. One time he fell asleep with a torch in his hand and burned a hole through the plastic on an aircraft."

This description would seem almost comical if were it not for the fact that the technician's work might make the difference between whether an American pilot lives or dies, DynCorp employees say. Even so, it pales in comparison to other allegations about the state of DynCorp's military and civilian aircraft maintenance. Johnston brought some of these concerns to the attention of management, but DynCorp fired him after he took his complaints of sex trafficking to the U.S. military police in Bosnia.

All too aware of what happens to employees such as Johnston who break company ranks, many of those who contacted INSIGHT agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity. But others, such as 20-year DynCorp veteran Tom Greer, were willing to go on the record for the "safety of the men and women flying the aircraft and those employees whose professional reputations are at stake."

Regardless of personal repercussions, Greer lays it on the line. "I'm angry," he says, "because this ... conduct has been going on now for several years with impunity. I and others who have left DynCorp are affected by DynCorp misrepresenting themselves and their German/international employees' qualifications to the U.S. Army, Europe and the Air Force Contracting Command at Tinker A.F.B. and Wright-Patterson A.F.B." In fact, Greer is so distressed about the safety of the aircraft for which DynCorp holds the maintenance contracts that he has taken his concerns to the highest levels of the U.S. military and also to Congress.

For instance, Greer has written to Brig. Gen. Lloyd Waterman, deputy commander for logistics, U.S. Army, Europe, explaining that "DynCorp is grossly misleading you [and] other U.S. government employees, and misrepresenting themselves by alluding to the fact that their German and American employees working under the German system are equally qualified and possess the same skills, training and experience as myself and other equally qualified technicians that are employed by their competitors. DynCorp has currently employed at its Coleman Barracks, Mannheim, Germany, Army airfield and other locations within Germany, individuals who have little, if any, aviation experience on the type of U.S. Army tactical aircraft they are performing unit intermediate-level maintenance on. …

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