What would you do if a friend confided in you that her pleas to have cracks on an airplane fixed are consistently ignored? Is that a business decision you leave up to more experienced management, or should she turn them in to the FFA and risk her sole source of income from which five people survive? This is a company with an already poor safety record, i.e. people dying in plane crashes. She has absolutely zero trust in the authorities, seeing how figures of authority have consistently messed with her from high school on. Today, she is very much dependent on the income, and has to weigh her kids needs before she can take any sort of action. With 0 dollars in my bank account, I am in no position to help her, and this just seems to be the way things go there.

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    You really have to ask us this?
    – Mawg
    Feb 6, 2020 at 6:45
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    @MawgsaysreinstateMonica I don't think the moral question is the part OP wants help with. It is more about how the friend can insulate herself so that she is not the one with her life wrecked. Feb 6, 2020 at 7:03
  • she is very much dependent on the income What way are you thinking of how taking action would threaten her income?
    – ig-dev
    Feb 6, 2020 at 7:28
  • Are there any protections for whistleblowers in the United States for that sort of thing, and is there a way I can call something like that in for a friend, even if she's afraid to, without getting her in trouble for not doing so?
    – loserex
    Feb 6, 2020 at 7:58
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    Is your friend afraid she will be find ot and fired or the company will close down? Also what is the probability of company choosing such people to blackmail them with financial situation to have "safety net" to commit safety breach? Feb 6, 2020 at 11:57

2 Answers 2


I am just going to lay out some information that could make reporting an easier choice. I don't think the moral choice is in dispute here. The problem is fundamentally the practical implications of that choice for your friend's family. If we could solve that, then there is no need for the debate.

  1. You can report anonymously to the FAA. I assume this is an American situation, but most other countries with decent quality aviation regulators would have similar programs. Go here: https://hotline.faa.gov/. The FAA does not need to even know the name of the person filing the report.

This is a company with an already poor safety record, ie. people dying in plane crashes

  1. Your friend could go to the press. Cracks in airplanes are the kind of thing which would make for interesting news. Journalists are fanatical about keeping their sources secret, have a near-absolute legal right to do so, and will happily do the required follow up for you. This is especially true if they have had recent crashes. https://www.nytimes.com/tips https://www.washingtonpost.com/anonymous-news-tips/

  2. No American passenger airline has had a fatal plane crash in over a decade. If these cracks are not on American planes, then perhaps the regulator of another country should be contacted. They would have anonymous programs as well. Unless you are referring to that one company everyone is thinking of right now...

  3. If the company is indeed Boeing, there are a multitude of options. Boeing is in thin ice with everyone right now, from Congress to the SEC to the FAA to the news media. If your friend has convincing evidence (perhaps photos along with plane registration numbers), there are numerous people who would welcome an envelope of evidence in the mail. Certain Senators and members of the House of Representatives. Any major newspaper in the country. The SEC.

It depends on the nature of the evidence, but if it can be written on paper or printed, just create a few copies, address them to different agencies/newspapers, affix sufficient postage, drive to a rural postbox, and drop them in the mail.

Heck, if you seriously have something crucial to safety and do not find that sufficiently secure, you can mail any evidence to me and I will resend it from a Canadian address in a new envelope. I don't need to know who you are or anything, just provide you with an address for an envelope. Won't have as much as a postmark or information about stamp purchases tying it back to your location.

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    Thank you for the kind offer of mailing the evidence for us. I have a picture of it on my phone.
    – loserex
    Feb 6, 2020 at 7:49
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    That was not sarcastic, by the way.
    – loserex
    Feb 6, 2020 at 7:59
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    @loserex the issue is less ownership and more easy access to inspect the aircraft. Choosing to report to the country of registration makes responsibility clear. Also, crossing borders can help maintain anonymity. Feb 6, 2020 at 8:26
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    Be careful about printing anything. Printers are capable of embedding dot patterns which are very hard to see but can be used to trace device in question. Do not use any printer to which said company has access, because if they ever lay their hand on copy of evidence, they might identify printer and review printing logs. Not sure what's a safe way, but I'd assume commercial printing shop next town over should be good enough, pay with cash. In case of digital evidence, remember to remove any identifying metadata, like EXIF embedded in photos.
    – M i ech
    Feb 6, 2020 at 14:08
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    "her pleas to have cracks on an airplane fixed are consistently ignored" may mean that the company will realise that any anonymous complaints originate from her Feb 6, 2020 at 18:43

The situation as she and I understand it, is that if the FFA knew what was going on there, they would shut down the, yes, American company. She would lose her job, and her income.

If that is true, then the situation would be no different if the aircraft was to crash and cause injuries and deaths. At that point, your friend simply needs to decide if she would rather be jobless for doing the right thing or jobless for not speaking up about an issue that caused harm to others. Regardless of her decision, I think she needs to start looking for a new company to work for.

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