Concern grows as Senate questions solicitation process for aviation contractor

The United States government has begun to take seriously concerns about the safety of AAR Airlift Group's operations, with government officials calling for transparency from the contractor.

The blunders of AAR have been numerous and well-documented over the past year, though its mistakes date back to 2015, causing government officials to be uneasy about the contractor's role in transporting government individuals.

For example, during its work with the airline Allegiant Air, AAR cut corners and failed to properly install a critical component that was needed for safe flight, according to a Tampa Bay Times article on the incident. 

Despite documenting that certain tasks had been completed, Allegiant quickly discerned that a cotter pin had not been installed, causing a nut to slip off. This component was responsible for joining the plane's controls to its elevators. No lives were lost, as the pilot sensed the danger and refused to launch the plane. 

This incident came about even though spokespeople from AAR have repeatedly referenced the millions of hours of maintenance that the company has completed. 

An incident in Afghanistan left AAR banned from an airfield after a helicopter nearly clipped a goal post during take off on two occasions, The Daily Caller reported.

It's no wonder then that the Senate is concerned by the fact that AAR was granted an 11.5-year contract for $10 billion to transport government officials.

The concern lies with not only the Worldwide Aviation Support Services contractor, but also with the solicitation process itself. Worldwide Aviation Support Services is tasked with finding aviation services for the State Department that are cost-effective and secure.

Members of Congress have raised concerns about the solicitation process, and the Senate has taken the incidents so seriously that the Senate Appropriations Committee’s 2018 funding bill “notes with concern allegations of impropriety regarding the World Aviation Support Services contract solicitation."

The committee is requesting that the State Department Office of Inspector General submits a report to explaining the depth and gravity of these allegations. 

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), chairman of Senate Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security Subcommittee and member of both the Defense and State subcommittees, and Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, member of the Defense Subcommittee and former full committee chairman, were both asked to comment on the current situation. Neither offered a response.

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