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Focus on Healing Our Friend

On Jan. 10, U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General Calvin L. Scovel, III announced his retirement from federal service to focus on his family and to battle prostate cancer. Scovel has served as the department’s chief internal auditor and investigator since 2006, making him the longest tenured IG in the DOT’s history. A review of his career path and the accolades and achievements along the way reveal that the ability to negotiate the hot winds of the executive, legislative and media for thirteen years was based upon hard work, knowledge and fairness.

During Scovel’s tenure, ARSA enjoyed a professional and productive relationship with the IG’s office. The association regularly provided insight, resources and industry connections for the office’s research teams and included its personnel in annual events. Most recently, Scovel provided the keynote address at ARSA’s 2018 Annual Conference.

“Calvin Scovel – ‘call me Cal’ – and I enjoy the same sense of humor, which is often based upon the irony associated with his office auditing another government agency,” ARSA Executive Director Sarah MacLeod said. “ARSA was always welcome in his office where constructive criticism was not dismissed out-of-hand. Although the association and government will miss his wise and steady counsel, he has certainly earned time with his family, which will create a more conducive climate for healing.”

To acknowledge his departure, ARSA looks back to Scovel’s “friendly visit” to its Annual Conference in 2018. The event was recounted for the members on newsletter the hotline by Kevin George, who demonstrates his boss’ personal touch with each familiar reference to “Cal’s” work:

the hotline – 2018 Edition 3 – April 6, 2018

From the “Quality Time” section…

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed by contributing authors do not necessarily state or reflect those of ARSA and shall not be used for endorsement purposes. 

Recapping the IG’s “Friendly Visit” to Symposium

By Kevin F. George, Aviation Safety Audits Project Manager, U.S. Department of Transportation

On March 15, DOT Inspector General Calvin Scovel, III delivered a speech on the IG office’s work on aircraft repair stations at ARSA’s Annual Repair Symposium in Arlington, Virginia. Executive Director Sarah MacLeod invited Cal to be the keynote speaker at the event, which is part of the association’s work to improve aviation safety and security and shape public policy through collaboration with the FAA and other world regulators.

Cal began by noting that the U.S. aviation system, which handles more than 30,000 flights a day, has a remarkable safety record and that the aircraft maintenance professionals play an important role in ensuring the nation’s aircraft are maintained appropriately and operate safely. He explained that OIG’s auditors and investigators also work tirelessly to improve the performance and integrity of DOT’s programs and ensure a safe, efficient and effective national transportation system. Cal reminded the group that we do not audit air carriers or repair stations. Our focus is on the FAA, and we visit air carriers and repair stations to assess how, when and where the agency conducts its oversight role.

DOT Inspector General Calvin Scovel, III provides his keynote address on March 15 during ARSA’s Annual Repair Symposium.

Cal then took the audience on a stroll down memory lane by recollecting the last 20-plus years of OIG’s work on repair stations:

In a 2003 report, for example, we called for the FAA to adopt a risk-based approach to repair station oversight because inspectors cannot realistically visit all repair stations in the world every year.

In 2008, we identified inconsistencies in how air carriers defined heavy aircraft maintenance repairs; as a result, the FAA—with ARSA’s help—developed a more uniform definition that helped improve its oversight of all repair stations. This is a clear example of the importance of effective FAA and industry cooperation in aviation safety matters.

In 2013, we reported that while the FAA had made progress, its oversight system was not yet truly “risk based” because repair stations were not always inspected based on risk. Inspectors continued to conduct their oversight annually at many foreign repair stations whether there was risk or not.

He also spoke about our 2015 review of the U.S./EU aviation safety agreement; aviation authorities in 18 European countries now perform direct oversight and certification of repair stations on the FAA’s behalf. This reciprocal agreement also permits FAA inspectors to conduct oversight of EU-certificated repair stations in the United States. But most important, it allows the FAA to more effectively use its scarce inspector resources where they are needed the most.

Next Cal focused on an issue that is the “bread and butter” of the aviation industry: ensuring that aircraft are maintained safely. That means keeping a watchful eye out for unapproved parts, which pose serious risks to aircraft when they enter the aviation supply chain. Our 2017 report identified multiple inaccuracies in the FAA’s database of unapproved parts. Furthermore, the FAA does not take action to confirm that airlines and repair stations actually remove unapproved parts from the supply chain. In fact, as AIG Matthew Hampton told the House Subcommittee on Aviation in February, we are currently investigating 65,000 unapproved Boeing parts that were for sale on eBay and found their way back into the supply chain.

Cal concluded by stating that while we don’t have any new audit work planned for repair stations, we have a few ongoing projects that may be of interest to the aircraft maintenance industry—air carrier maintenance, aircraft registry and the aviation drug abatement program.

The Office of the Inspector General conducts audits and investigations on behalf of the American public to improve the performance and integrity of DOT’s programs to ensure a safe, efficient, and effective national transportation system. To learn more and access reports and advisories, visit

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