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Home > Market > Homeland Security

An Accident Waiting to Happen?

Consumer Reports investigation finds safety concerns due to outsourcing

The Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS), AFL-CIO, the union that represents more than 11,000 U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees, called the findings of a new investigation by Consumer Reports a “wake up call to the FAA.”


The article, titled “An accident waiting to happen?” explores the air safety concerns arising from the increasing trend of outsourcing maintenance and inspection responsibilities.

Consumer Reports found that while airlines are increasing their reliance on overseas maintenance facilities, which are subject to less oversight and fewer inspections, the FAA is reducing the actual number of inspections of repair facilities and airline oversight in general, causing the margin of safety to decrease as airlines contract out more than half of their maintenance work.  The article highlights that repair stations in the U.S. and many countries of the world are relying on staff that is not licensed and does not undergo security screenings.  Also emphasized is the FAAs growing reliance on statistical-based analysis rather than physical inspections of repair facilities.  Most troubling, states Consumer Reports, is that this is happing concurrent to the FAA allowing the number of safety inspectors responsible for overseeing the industry to dissipate through attrition.

“We commend Consumer Reports for calling attention to this very serious issue.  Our repeated warnings to the FAA have fallen on deaf ears for a long time,” said Linda Goodrich, PASS regional vice president.  “The FAA is playing a dangerous game by promoting increased reliance on outsourced maintenance overseas at the same time they are allowing the number of inspectors to shrink, with 50 percent of inspectors being eligible to retire by 2010.  It is literally a disaster waiting to happen.”



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