March 23, 2023
Dear Member of Congress:
On behalf of the millions of aviation workers that we represent, I urge you to support the bipartisan Global Aircraft Maintenance Safety Improvement Act, H.R.1716, to ensure the safe and proper oversight of foreign repair stations in countries like El Salvador, Mexico, and China, where maintenance and repair work is performed on U.S. commercial aircraft. China is the single largest beneficiary of these regulatory loopholes.
The FAA has certified 93 aircraft repair facilities in China, employing nearly 23,000 mechanics and maintenance specialists working on U.S. aircraft. Every single one of these facilities is owned, at least in part, by the Chinese government. The threat of the Chinese government’s involvement in our air travel is troublesome, especially since a U.S. worker may never maintain this equipment if these aircraft cycle out of the country each time a significant repair is needed.
For decades, our unions have called for greater oversight by the FAA of FAA-certified foreign repair stations that perform work on U.S. aircraft. Despite several legislative victories requiring the FAA to promulgate rules governing these foreign repair stations, there has yet to be meaningful progress to ensure that they are held to the same high level of safety standards and oversight that govern repair stations located in the United States.
H.R.1716 would make several reforms to strengthen the oversight of foreign repair stations and create real consequences if the FAA fails to act on existing or new statutory requirements. This includes eliminating one of the most significant barriers to proper safety oversight of foreign repair stations by requiring the annual FAA inspections of these stations to be unannounced. Under current law, FAA inspectors must give notification to foreign stations before conducting their safety inspections which makes it nearly impossible for FAA inspectors to identify potential safety violations and risks.
In addition, the bill would also improve transparency by requiring air carriers to submit regular reports to the FAA detailing the maintenance that has been performed on the aircraft, as well as any malfunctions or poor maintenance that required corrective action. This will help regulators detect potential safety failures and take appropriate action to ensure that those stations with poor performance either improve their performance or lose their U.S. certification.
Finally, the bill would compel the FAA to conduct required background checks of FAA certified foreign repair station employees and would implement a moratorium on new foreign repair station certifications if a final drug and alcohol testing rule has not been implemented within one year of the bill’s enactment.
Congress must commit to the safest commercial aircraft operations and ensure that aircraft maintenance and repair work, both at home and abroad, meets the highest safety standards. The current two-tiered system contradicts the standards the flying public expects and that Congress has previously mandated. We strongly urge you to support this bill.
Air Line Pilots Association
Association of Flight Attendants, CWA
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
National Air Traffic Controllers Association
Professional Aviation Safety Specialists
Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO
Transport Workers Union of America