FAA Critical

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Maybe Dave needs to read this if he tries to steal our airbus work!

US says contract airline repairs need closer watch
Reuters, 07.10.03, 1:28 PM ET
By Tim Dobbyn

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A government report released Thursday calls for greater oversight of the aviation repair stations that U.S. airlines are increasingly using to contract out their repair and maintenance work.

The U.S. Department of Transportation''s Office of Inspector General said the Federal Aviation Administration had failed to respond to the trend and continued to concentrate its inspection resources on air carriers'' in-house maintenance operations.

Problems, such as the use of incorrect aircraft parts and outdated maintenance manuals, were seen at 18 of 21 repair stations visited by the DOT watchdog, 12 of them domestic and 9 foreign.

These vulnerabilities all relate to a lack of effective FAA oversight and, if not corrected, could lead to an erosion of safety, said the report.

The FAA said it was working to address the problems identified by the inspector general, although it said the small number of facilities examined may have been too small to get accurate impression of the quality of repair stations.

Currently there are approximately 650 foreign and 4,600 domestic repair stations certified by the FAA.

The inspector general''s report said the use of repair stations to complete aircraft maintenance was becoming as fundamental to air carriers maintenance programs as their own internal maintenance facilities.

Although air carriers have contracted out portions of their maintenance work for years, this practice has recently become more pronounced.

As of December 2002, the report said, major air carriers were using repair stations for 47 percent of their total aircraft maintenance costs.

Despite the increase in air carriers use of these facilities, FAA has continued to concentrate its resources on oversight of air carriers in-house maintenance, the inspector general''s study said.

The unnamed air carrier contracted out 44 percent of its maintenance costs that same year.

Major U.S. air carriers spent a total of $1.5 billion on outside maintenance work in 1996, but by 2002 that amount had increased to $2.5 billion.

Inspectors at one air carrier completed 400 inspections of the carrier''s in-house maintenance operations in 2002, while only completing 7 maintenance inspections of outside repair stations used by the air carrier during the same period.

This trend has been largely driven by the substantial cost savings that can be realized from using repair stations. Air carriers can save as much as 30 to 40 percent by outsourcing aircraft maintenance because labor rates are lower at repair stations, said the report.

Perhaps I was a bit vague, because to be precise might be a bit ghoulish and disrespectful. So, to avoid that I''ll just shut-up.
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FAA needs to improve oversight of aircraft maintenance, report says
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The Federal Aviation Administration does not adequately oversee the growing number of outside contractors repairing airplanes, the Transportation Department''s inspector general said in a report released Thursday.
At 18 of 21 repair stations checked by government investigators, contract mechanics used incorrect aircraft parts and improperly calibrated tools, and had outdated manuals.
"The vulnerabilities all relate to a lack of effective FAA oversight that needs to be improved," the report said.
FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said the agency agrees with the findings. However, she stressed the report does not say passengers are in any danger.
"There''s no data to support a safety issue," she said.
US Airways used an outside contractor to maintain the commuter plane that crashed on takeoff at North Carolina''s Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in January, killing all 21 aboard.
The ongoing investigation that followed found a mechanic improperly set turnbuckles, which control tension on elevator control cables. If a cable is too slack, the pilot does not have full control of the elevator, a tail flap that moves up and down and causes the plane to climb or dive.
The inspector general began the investigation of maintenance outsourcing a year before the crash, but the Charlotte accident investigation findings have intensified calls for the FAA to increase its oversight.
The inspector general noted that major airlines, struggling to survive, are looking to trim costs by outsourcing maintenance.
FAA: [url="http://www.faa.gov"]http://www.faa.gov[/URL]
Does anyone know how to get a hold of the AP reporter. Her facts are wrong, US Airways did not use (nor even operate) an outside contractor to do maintenance on that ill fated flight. Air Midwest did. These "journalists" are unbelieveable. Maybe a promotion to the NY Times is in her future with such accurate reporting.
If its blue and has a flag on it, try explaining to someone not in the industry that its not US Airways...