Airline whistleblower should receive asylum
Not all whistleblowers are involved in the attempt to impeach President Donald Trump. Some are worried about a more critical matter — the safety of airline passengers.
Ethiopian Airlines former chief engineer, Yonas Yeshanew, is seeking asylum in the United States after resigning from his post this summer. Yeshanew says he quit because the airline has engaged in a pattern of corruption related to the safety of its planes.
Yeshanew insists airline officials approved shoddy repairs, fabricated documents including maintenance records and beat employees considered to be troublemakers.
An international scandal resulted after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max in March. All 157 people on board perished.
That tragedy came after the October 2018 crash of an Indonesian Boeing 737 Max in which 189 people died. After the second disaster, all 737 Max planes in service were grounded.
Yeshanew says that the day after the Ethiopian Airlines crash, officials of the company opened maintenance records on the plane — though they were supposed to be sealed.
Ethiopian Airlines maintains Yeshanew is merely a disgruntled employee. But if so, he is not the only one: The Associated Press reports three other former employees have expressed similar safety-related concerns.
Obviously, Federal Aviation Administration officials — and others involved in international airline safety agencies — should investigate Yeshanew’s story.
If he is telling the truth, it is clear existing mechanisms for ensuring airlines all over the world follow reasonable safety procedures will need to be reevaluated.
In the meantime, Yeshanew should be granted asylum in the United States. If he is lying, he can be punished at a later date.
But if he is telling the truth, he should be kept here in the United States — not just for his own protection, but also for the safety of millions of people who rely on airlines.