AIRCRAFT REPAIR STATION SAFETY ACT OF 1996; Congressional Record Vol. 142, No. 105
(Extensions of Remarks - July 17, 1996)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1305]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                         HON. ROBERT A. BORSKI

                            of pennsylvania

                    in the house of representatives

                        Wednesday, July 17, 1996

  Mr. BORSKI. Mr. Speaker, today I am introducing the Aircraft Repair 
Station Safety Act of 1996, a bill designed to ensure that foreign 
repair stations that perform work on aircraft owned by U.S.-based 
airlines meet the same or equivalent safety standards as U.S. repair 
  This legislation is absolutely essential to make sure that, in the 
interest of the bottom line, U.S. airlines are not tempted to transfer 
work abroad to repair stations that do not meet the same standards as 
domestic repair stations.
  The bill specifically addresses serious safety concern: The 1988 
Federal Aviation Administration regulations, part 145, which eased the 
rules for certification of foreign aircraft repair facilities. As a 
result of those regulations, there are repair enterprises around the 
world actively seeking to secure the lucrative maintenance work for 
U.S. aircraft and components.
  The FAA's 1988 regulations needlessly changed the rules for worldwide 
maintenance. Previously, U.S. aircraft were required to be repaired in 
the United States except in emergencies or if the plane was being used 
solely in international operations. Today, regularly scheduled 
maintenance is being performed abroad, even if standards for those 
foreign repair stations are not as high as those for U.S. stations and 
regardless of the impact on the U.S. work force.
  If facilities in countries such as Mexico and Costa Rica succeed in 
attracting large amounts of work for United States aircraft, I fear 
that aviation safety standards will erode and high-wage, high-skill 
United States workers may see their jobs move overseas to take 
advantage of low wages in Third World nations. This bill will prevent 
the loss of jobs in the United States to foreign repair stations with 
lower standards.
  This issue is much like the issue of the application of U.S. safety 
standards to foreign airlines, a matter which I examined intensively as 
chairman of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight in the 
102d and 103d Congresses. I was disappointed at that time by the FAA's 
slow response to the need of application of U.S. safety standards to 
foreign airlines, just as I am disappointed today by FAA's failure to 
respond to the need to revise the 1988 regulations.
  With the heightened national attention to aviation safety issues that 
exists today, this bill focus on the need to ensure that foreign 
aircraft repair stations meet the highest possible safety standards by 
operating under the same rules as U.S. domestic facilities.
  This bill will promote safe skies, require uniform aircraft repair 
standards around the world, and shield an important, high wage American 
job sector from attempts to ship jobs overseas to low-wage countries.
  With passage of this legislation, we will ensure that foreign repair 
facilitate do not obtain FAA certification unless they meet the same 
standards that our Government imposes on U.S. facilities.
  The Aircraft Repair Station Safety Act of 1996 consists of three main 
  First, the bill nullifies the November, 1988 FAA regulations which 
made it far too easy for foreign aircraft repair facilities to obtain 
FAA certification regardless of need;
  Second, the bill levels the playing field by requiring foreign 
facilities to fulfill the same standards as those imposed on domestic 
repair stations by the FAA; and
  Third, the bill requires FAA to take strong action against those who 
would knowingly employ the use of substandard or uncertificated parts.
  These issues are especially important and timely in the wake of the 
Valujet tragedy where we discovered a confusing maze of 56 contractors 
and subcontractors used to handle aircraft maintenance normally 
performed in-house by the major air carriers. It is clear that there 
were serious problems with the regulatory system's ability to conduct 
adequate surveillance of domestic contract operators. At the same time, 
we cannot ignore the potential regulatory and enforcement problems 
associated with oversight of foreign facilities.
  Unless overturned, the current FAA regulations could inspire U.S. air 
carriers to send high-wage mechanics jobs to low-wage countries. FAA-
certified facilities in Mexico and Costa Rica, as well as other 
countries, employ workers who, in comparison to U.S. workers, earn 
extremely low wages to perform highly specialized, sensitive jobs.
  In Tijuana, Mexico, a massive FAA-certified facility is ready to take 
on aircraft maintenance work even though there is sufficient capacity 
with thousands of skilled American workers ready to handle this safety-
sensitive work. The purpose of the Tijuana facility is clear: to lure 
lucrative aircraft repair business from the United States at the 
expense of high-wage American jobs.
  Congress and the FAA have the clear responsibility to ensure that the 
traveling public does not face unnecessary risks caused by the 
expansion of globalization of air transport to the area of aircraft 
maintenance. This expansion must not result in the reduction of safety 
  We also have the duty to discourage the movement of high-skill 
mechanics jobs overseas and to make sure that any unscrupulous company 
that would knowingly use bogus parts faces a loss of certification.
  The Aircraft Repair Station Safety Act of 1996 brings common sense 
and equity to the FAA's aircraft repair facility certification program. 
I urge my colleagues to join me in support of the Aircraft Repair 
Station Safety Act of 1996.