January 26 - BTC Supports Aircraft Maintenance Outsourcing Moratorium

Passenger safety and homeland security currently at Risk

January 26, 2009, RADNOR, PA--Business Travel Coalition (BTC) today in a letter to Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-8th CA) called for support for a moratorium, to be included in the 2008-2009 national economic stimulus bill, on commercial and cargo aircraft maintenance outsourcing until such time that there is a single maintenance and security standard in place for when such activity is conducted at airlines’ in-house facilities, domestic-U.S. repair facilities or foreign repair facilities, and until such time that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has the appropriate organizational structure and required resources necessary to provide adequate oversight.

Numerous airline industry experts have warned that current outsourcing practices pose a growing risk to the flying public of catastrophic aircraft failures or terrorist acts, due to degradation in both aircraft maintenance standards and government oversight. The U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General’s office has documented many serious problems in this area over several years. The latest report was published on September 30, 2008 and stated:

“Specifically, we determined that FAA did not (1) have an adequate system for determining how much and where the most critical maintenance occurs, (2) have a specific policy governing when certificate management inspectors should visit repair stations performing substantial maintenance, (3) require inspectors to validate that repair stations have corrected deficiencies identified in air carrier audits, and (4) have adequate controls to ensure that inspectors document inspection findings in the national database and review related findings by other inspectors. As a result, FAA could not effectively target its inspection resources to those repair stations providing the highest volume of repairs, which caused deficiencies at repair stations to go undetected or reoccur and prevented inspectors from obtaining sufficient data to perform comprehensive risk assessments.”

BTC chairman Kevin Mitchell wrote to the Speaker, “Transportation and homeland security agencies have acted lethargically to address the fundamental and growing problems identified by the Inspector General’s office. Given the advent of a new Congress and Administration, and new leadership at these agencies, it is an appropriate time to implement a moratorium on this activity until the government and industry can agree on a single maintenance and security standard as well as how to finance expanded and necessary government oversight. Airline passengers and the general public deserve no less.”

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