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Airline bosses: Loose screws and outsourcing

Last weekend an American Airlines plane flying from Boston to Miami made an emergency landing in New York because…well, because of outsourcing. A row of passenger seats became unbolted midflight, causing the loose seats to “slid[e] around like a carnival ride.”

And if that’s not scary enough, it happened again on Monday on another Miami-bound American Airlines flight. Pretty soon passengers might start asking why they need to fasten their seatbelts if the seats aren’t fastened to the floor!

According to American Airlines pilot Tom Hoban,

We’ve had two diverts and a series of write-ups about the same problem with 757s. They used to go to American maintenance facilities in Fort Worth and Tulsa but now they go to an outside vendor; our guys tell us the work is pretty shoddy.

The maintenance for both planes is done by TIMCO, a company with a knack for substandard work:

Indeed, American’s 757 maintenance is being outsourced. And the work is, by all accounts, pretty shoddy. According to one AA insider, the same shoddy workmanship that caused a row of seats to “slid[e] around like a carnival ride” is also going into the most critical parts of the aircraft.

American Airlines workers are facing hard times because the airline declared bankruptcy and management is trying to extract concessions from its mechanics, pilots and flight attendants. Last month, American sent layoff notices to thousands of workers, including over 1,000 mechanics.

So who’s gonna fix the planes? American wants to outsource 35 percent of its maintenance work to foreign and domestic contractors – you know, reliable, non-union (and sometimes unlicensed) contractors like TIMCO.

Of course, American isn’t alone. AA pilot Hoban explains:

This is not just American, it’s industry-wide. The biggest heavy maintenance facilities are in El Salvador and China and there’s essentially no real daily oversight there. You don’t have A&P (Airframe & Powerplant) certified mechanics, there’s a lack of quality assurance programs, and you’re at the mercy of how that particular facility is run, and you really have no idea as to what kind of maintenance actually occurred. The only time you have any actual visual assessment is when you have an in-flight emergency.

American Airlines mechanics are currently trying to switch unions and become Teamsters. The Teamsters have a strong record of fighting back against airline maintenance outsourcing at other airlines like United.

Airline bosses are sacrificing safety and jobs in the name of saving a few bucks. And as author William McGee documents in his new book Attention All Passengers, maintenance outsourcing is worsening the airline industry's tailspin.

-- Union Thug

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