FAA reviewing complaint regarding Cleveland Hopkins airport snow removal concerns

Posted at 5:46 PM, Jan 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-19 14:53:55-05

The Federal Aviation Administration is currently reviewing a complaint the agency received regarding snow removal concerns at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. 

The complaint, filed by the Chandra Law Firm, LLC on behalf of an airport whistleblower, alleges that there were "multiple violations" that occurred during a snow storm on Dec. 30. 

Included in the complaint was an email from Airport Field Maintenance Manager Rob Henderson sent Jan. 4 that alludes to some problems the airport reportedly experienced during the snow storm. 

The email reads: 

During last week's snow event starting on Friday 2nd shift we had quite a few things to go wrong that we need to ensure doesn't happen again if we can help it. Some of the things that I recognized to be a problem are as follow:

  • Radio communication ( Radios were on the wrong channel, not working, or missing all together)
  • Situational Awareness Off (we had 3 trucks run off the runway into the safety area )
  • Employees not following instructions ( members of the Ramp and Runway teams were not following instructions from foreman)
  • Members of leadership still not taking ownership of their full responsibilities ( not properly directing team members during operations)
  • Leadership losing focus in mid task (fuel pump incident)
  • The airport had to temporarily close due to poor runway conditions ( could we have prevented this from happening)
  • When situations happen the manager and superintendents have to respond or report to the airport to help in the mitigation of the problem
  • Proper placement of experience to non-experience personnel in our snow operations is a must at all times
  • Proper application of chemicals is a must at all times

Please add to this list by C.O.B. Friday anything you feel is a problem with our operations and need to be addressed. To resolve the issues identified it will take a collected effort. So I need at least two solutions to each problem listed from all of you individually by C.O.B. Monday 1/9/17.
Once all the solutions are in we will review them then take action.
Thank you in advance for your corporation on this very important matter.


Subodh Chandra, attorney for Hopkins employee Abdul-Malik Ali, filed the complaint with the FAA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Tuesday against the airport and the City of Cleveland.  According to the complaint, Ali was formerly the manager of airfield maintenance at Hopkins, "but was demoted upon his reporting to the FAA of air-carrier safety violations."

The complaint also alleges that the airport violated the FAA’s May 2017 Settlement Agreement and Order with the city. 

Read the entire complaint below: 


An FAA spokesperson said Wednesday the agency is reviewing the complaint. 

News 5 is awaiting a statement from the airport. 

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport was hit with $735,000 in civil penalties in 2015 for having unsafe conditions during the winter. 

When the FAA imposed the fines, it accused the airport of failing to have proper staffing and de-icing equipment available during the storms, potentially putting passenger safety at risk.

Last year, the City of Cleveland agreed to pay $200,000 and improve its airfield snow and ice removal plan as part of a settlement with the FAA.