July 17, 1996 - Issue: Vol. 142, No. 105 — Daily Edition104th Congress (1995 - 1996) - 2nd Session
AIRCRAFT REPAIR STATION SAFETY ACT OF 1996; Congressional Record Vol. 142, No. 105
(Extensions of Remarks - July 17, 1996)
Text available as:
Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.
[Extensions of Remarks] [Page E1305] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] AIRCRAFT REPAIR STATION SAFETY ACT OF 1996 ______ 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 stations. 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 provisions: 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 standards. 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. ____________________