Good news for those who care about aviation safety and security. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) took the lead at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing yesterday questioning whether the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does a good job regulating the security of aircraft maintenance performed at foreign-based aircraft repair facilities. This isn’t about some abstract Washington, DC policy debate —as the Senator says, it is about the security protocols followed to ensure the safety of the planes all of us fly in.
For years, TTD and our unions – led by the IAM, the TWU and PASS – have fought to enhance the safety, security, and oversight of foreign repair stations that work on U.S. commercial aircraft. And for good reason — these facilities that dot the globe are not held to the same standards as U.S. repair stations and their employees.
During the hearing, Sen. McCaskill demanded beefed up inspections and employee background checks at foreign facilities that work on U.S. aircraft. She also pointed out that drug and alcohol testing rules on foreign stations, mandated by Congress in 2012, have not been implemented. There is no reason to have two standards for safety, one that applies to aircraft repairs performed here at home and apparently a looser standard that applies overseas. The efforts of Sen. McCaskill matter as we face an epidemic of outsourcing in American aviation, with close to 80 percent of aircraft maintenance being farmed out, much of it overseas to poorly regulated facilities.
“I don’t think most Americans know that almost every domestic plane they’re in is cared for, repaired, overhauled in foreign repair stations — including foreign repair stations in countries that are listed by the State Department as countries that can be a haven for terrorists,” Sen. McCaskill said. “There’s no perimeter security in foreign repair stations. There’s no alcohol and drug testing at foreign repair stations. So, we’ve got one standard for machinists and others who work on airplanes in the United States but if you want to take those jobs overseas, then all of a sudden, it is like a sieve.”
Be sure to watch the exchange between Sen. McCaskill and Peter Neffenger, Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration.