Airplane maintenance is critical. It is problematic when it becomes just a cost center to the airlines.
More scrutiny for airplane maintenance?
I came across an article in Vanity Fair that gave me pause. The title was ominous enough; The Disturbing Truth About How Airplanes Are Maintained Today. Of course, the title alone implies that airlines implement maintenance much differently than before.
The article points the unfortunate truth.
The airlines are shipping this maintenance work offshore for the reason you’d expect: to cut labor costs. Mechanics in El Salvador, Mexico, China, and elsewhere earn a fraction of what mechanics in the U.S. do. In part because of this offshoring, the number of maintenance jobs at U.S. carriers has plummeted, from 72,000 in the year 2000 to fewer than 50,000 today. But the issue isn’t just jobs. A century ago, Upton Sinclair wrote his novel The Jungle to call attention to the plight of workers in the slaughterhouses, but what really got people upset was learning how unsafe their meat was. Safety is an issue here, too. The Federal Aviation Administration is supposed to be inspecting all the overseas facilities that do maintenance for airlines—just as it is supposed to inspect those in America. But the F.A.A. no longer has the money or the manpower to do this.
There are two huge red flags in that one paragraph. First, the airlines in the attempt to cut cost offshore the airplane’s maintenance. The mechanics are not necessarily proficient in English, the language the manuals are written in throughout the industry. The second red flag is that the airlines are diminishing the American work pool. To save cost, as companies offshore these type as jobs, the skillset of the American people progressively fall as these jobs are no longer local.
Our corporations instead of investing in the people that have made them great, continue their extractive policies. Only government bold enough to will solve these types of problems.