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Fri, Aug 11, 2006

AFL-CIO Claims Foreign Repair Stations Threaten Safety Of Air Passengers

Transportation Labor Warns of Lack of Oversight and Regulations

Though it might strike some as a mite opportunistic, the following statement was issued today by Edward Wytkind, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), following the terror plot uncovered by British Authorities that threatened airline passengers and forced increased security measures at the nation's airports:
"Today's announcement that authorities foiled a plot to blow up jetliners flying from London to the U.S. highlights again that air travel remains a tempting target for terrorists seeking to attack U.S. interests.  Given this reality, the lack of security at the almost 700 foreign repair stations where U.S. aircraft are maintained creates a security loop-hole that could give terrorists an opportunity to jeopardize air travel without ever having to physically enter this country. 

"Outsourcing of repairs and maintenance is spreading throughout the airline industry.  According to the IG, in the past decade, carriers have increased outsourced maintenance from 37 percent of their total maintenance expenses to 53 percent.  More than 13 percent of the repair stations used are located in foreign countries including Singapore, Hong Kong, El Salvador, China and South Korea.

"In 2003, Transportation Labor called on the Administration to temporarily stop U.S. maintenance work at vulnerable foreign repair stations.  When DOT and TSA denied this petition, Congress mandated security rules be put in place and that audits be conducted.  More than two years later, the Administration had blatantly ignored this mandate and failed to issue regulations or conduct on-site audits.

"Securing our aviation industry requires thinking ahead and not waiting for the next attack to identify a weakness.  In light of today's news, the Administration should act without haste to issue an emergency order preventing foreign stations from working on U.S. aircrafts until security audits are conducted and rules are instituted that promote enforceable security procedures."



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