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Thu, May 28, 2009

Aircraft Mechanics May Have Been Improperly Licensed

Poor Regulation Of Examiners Cited

In a development that could have far reaching effects, The Dallas Morning News and WFAA-TV have been reporting that hundreds of mechanics may have received licences without proper testing, and that many continue to work in the commercial and general aviation industry.

There are about 300 certified testing centers for mechanics across the country, and they are given a lot of latitude in how tests are administered. 

Bill McNease, a pilot and former FAA inspector told the WFAA reporters faulty testing "is very difficult to uncover, unless an FAA inspector walks in while it is happening." He said the outcome of shoddy testing can be deadly, "A mechanic can cause an airplane to crash just as much as a pilot can."

Some examiners have developed a reputation for being "diploma mills." The report indicates some centers generate virtually all their income from testing, and that fees can vary widely. The FAA's difficulties in regulating these examination centers, and the mechanics that receive certificates, may be a major safety concern for anyone who flies, according to government whistle-blowers including some former FAA employees.

16 year ago, a USDOT audit uncovered a number of problems with examiners, concluding the "FAA cannot be assured that only qualified applicants were certified as aviation mechanics."

The FAA, responding to written inquiries by WFAA-TV, said " the agency maintains adequate testing and licensing oversight under existing regulations."

FMI: www.faa.gov/mechanics/become

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