WASHINGTON, D.C. – With one-third of commercial aircraft maintenance and repair work outsourced abroad, transportation unions today endorsed legislation to improve the safety, security and oversight of foreign repair work. The SAFE AIR Act of 2008 was introduced today by Senators Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Arlen Specter (Pa.).
“For too long, this Administration has ignored the obvious threats to air safety posed by virtually unregulated overseas aircraft maintenance work,” said Edward Wytkind, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO. ”Today, there is not a consistent level of safety and security between foreign and domestic facilities. The McCaskill-Specter bill addresses this discrepancy.”
U.S. mechanics are required to undergo robust drug and alcohol testing, yet foreign mechanics at FAA-certified facilities who work on U.S. aircraft are exempt from this requirement. The SAFE AIR Act closes this loophole.
“A lack of uniform drug and alcohol testing requirements is an irresponsible double-standard that must be eliminated,” Wytkind said.
The bill also requires Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors to physically inspect foreign repair stations that perform work on U.S. aircraft at least twice a year. The Bush Administration opposed this common sense mandate in its April 29 Statement of Administration Policy when it said that such requirements are “unsupported by any safety data.”
“Only this White House could oppose two inspections a year for foreign facilities that are rebuilding engines and doing other heavy maintenance on the aircraft carrying U.S. citizens,” Wytkind said.
After the 9/11 attacks, Congress mandated new security rules for foreign and domestic repair stations, and audits to make sure the rules are being followed. Despite an August 2004 deadline, no rules have been issued and no audits have been conducted. The SAFE AIR Act prohibits repair facilities from getting certified until they meet the yet-unpublished security standards.
“We applaud Senator McCaskill and Senator Specter for their leadership on these important issues and commitment to aviation safety,” Wytkind said.
The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, represents 32 member unions in the aviation, rail, transit, trucking, highway, longshore, maritime and related industries. For more information, visit www.ttd.org.