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Aircraft maintenance sent overseas. Help settle a debate.

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Stanley Student, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. Hoping the folks here at TB can help settle a debate between a coworker and I about this subject. I have a dog in this fight because I am a licensed aircraft mechanic who spent 18 months in trade school, 6 & 1/2 a day 5 days a week. Any time missed at school had to made up after the fact, so not one minute was missed in your training.
    Maintenance on major US airline carriers is being sent to China as well as other stateside entities.
    The issue I have with this is the people who work on these aircraft are not licensed, have inadequate background checks and are often trained on the job under enormous pressures. In doing so, the job is often done by use of "tribal knowledge".
    All of the major airlines in the US have done this.

    Now the debate.....

    I don't think people in the states know this is happening. If they did, they would have an issue with it.

    He thinks people do know and don't care as long as they can get the cheapest flight humanly possible.

    Help settle this debate. There is no wrong or right answer, simply your opinion.
  2. preside


    Aug 7, 2010
    Scottsdale Az
    I won't even buy shoes made in China (you know how hard that is) so you know where I stand.
  3. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I'm not going to say what the OP probably wants me to....

    The issue to me is not where the work is done, it's safety. This is something you (and your fellow aircraft workers) need to contact your Congressperson about. Regulations should be in place to assure that maintenance work performed on all aircraft is done by people with appropriate training.

    At that point, it's up to the industry to decide which group of well-trained workers should be doing the work. If they're in the US, great. If they're in China, then the US workers need to become more competitive.
  4. I hear that. But are you aware of this issue? If so, does it matter to you?
  5. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    Unless you have lived under a rock for the past 10 years how could you NOT know that it was happening?
  6. I'm not looking for a certain response. Just your honest opinions. It makes no difference to me. Just wondering if people know this is going on and if so, do they have an issue with it.
  7. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I was totally unaware of it, but yes, it matters because of safety. If - as you allege - the people doing maintenance are not properly trained, then it matters to me and to everyone who travels by air. Can you offer any stories or links from authoritative sources which support the allegation?

    Well, thanks kindly for the compliment. I follow news pretty closely, but aviation news is not widely reported other than stories about peak weekends, weather delays or other wide-spread problems. I haven't heard about this before now.

    The challenge is two fold: make it a national story (which it is NOT at present), and prompt action by Congress. Maybe the folks at 60 Minutes would be glad to hear about this...and that's where having documentation or other evidence comes in.
  8. Samsound


    Sep 28, 2010
    This reminds me of a time several years ago when I was serving as a Subject Matter Expert to an Operations Group commander. A request came through to allow our crewmembers from subordinate units to fly on aircraft owned and operated by a certain foreign government. Upon researching the aircraft in question, I learned that they are kit planes, likely assembled and maintained by the foreign government in question, and our response was "Absolutely NOT!!"
    Sure enough, a few months later there were back-page news reports about one or two of those planes crashing. None of my guys were on them.
  9. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    my father is an aircraft inspector, i'll ask him what he knows about this
  10. It doesn't seem to make the news much which is why I think people are just unaware of it.
  11. viper4000


    Aug 17, 2010
    My father was a flight engineer in the US Air Force, and my brother currently works for a major airplane manufacturer, and no, I did not know this was happening. And no, I don't live under a rock, even though that might be better than where I do live LOL.

    Let's be really clear, as I am very curious....you, OP, as a trained flight mechanic/technician are saying that when a plane needs maintenance and is deemed unworthy to fly, that plane is flown to China to be repaired?

    Come on guys, something does not add up. No matter how cheap that mechanic/laborer is, no financial benefit could come from this.

    OP, can you please provide more information such as types of repairs, types of equipment, etc?
  12. The maintenance that I perform is subject to the scrutiny of the FAA and other US goverment agencies. If I screw up, I could lose my license, be jailed and fined. That's the beauty of a license. Accountability. My work has a paper trail for the life of the aircraft.
  13. I'm not saying the aircraft is not flight worthy when it leaves the states. That would get nailed in a heartbeat. It is when heavy maintenance checks that are scheduled by the manufacturer are due.
  14. ^ this.

    If there really was a case where aircraft repair was being outsourced, I would be concerned but about others have said, safety regulations.
  15. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I'm back to the same question - is it safe when it returns to the US for commercial use?

    (It also might help to define what "safe" means.)

    If yes, no problem.

    If no, regulations need to be changed.

    Understand, I'm sympathetic to the outsourcing of maintenance. But the critical piece to me at this point in the discussion is whether the aircraft has been serviced by appropriately trained personnel or not.
  16. Truktek2


    Sep 5, 2008
    Queens, NY
    Yep, I knew this. Your friend is right. Even if it were common knowledge, nobody would give a rats @ss as long as they get the cheapest flight available. Welcome to the world of the almighty dollar.

    To answer your question, no the general public doesn't know, nor would they care if they did.
  17. The recent fiasco with seats becoming dislodged on one major airline's 757 seats is just one example. If a licensed mechanic would have done this, he would have been subject to civil and criminal penalties and at the very least would have lost his job and/or license.
  18. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    May be it is just where I live.
    This has been going on for a long time.
    Northwest airlines was home based here in Minnesota.
    The union labor rates was hurting them and with them being a major airline going to the Orient they started using overseas maintenance.
    That was back in 2008 or 2009.
    The unions made a big stink about it around here.
    In late 09 NWA sold out to Delta and they moved all the maintenance to Atlanta (right to work state)and shut everything down here.
    I am sure that a lot of Delta and NWA planes get their work done overseas to keep the costs down.
  19. It is considered safe when the aircraft returns to service. But by who? There is no FAA or DOT in China. It is considered safe when the maintenance criteria (on paper) is met. The FAA inspectors that frequently look over my shoulder and ask questions about what I'm doing are not based in other countries.
  20. pocketgroove


    Jun 28, 2010
    I didn't know about this, but it is alarming and I can see a number of issues with it. I'll have to ask my coworker if he knows; he's a pilot-in-training.