Consumer Reports Investigation Finds Safety Concerns Due to Outsourcing

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS), AFL-CIO, the union that represents more than 11,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees, today called the findings of a new investigation by Consumer Reports (March 2007) 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 domestic and foreign repair stations are relying on staff that is not licensed and does not undergo security screenings. Also emphasized is the FAA’s 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."

For more information on the Consumer Reports investigation, contact Kori Blalock at .


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PASS represents more than 11,000 employees of the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense who install, maintain, support and certify air traffic control and national defense equipment, inspect and oversee the commercial and general aviation industries, develop flight procedures and perform quality analyses of the aviation systems. For more information, visit the PASS website at www.passnational.org.

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