http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/11/ ... bing-truth
Over the past decade, nearly all large U.S. airlines have shifted heavy maintenance work on their airplanes to repair shops thousands of miles away, in developing countries, where the mechanics who take the planes apart (completely) and put them back together (or almost) may not even be able to read or speak English. US Airways and Southwest fly planes to a maintenance facility in El Salvador. Delta sends planes to Mexico. United uses a shop in China. American still does much of its most intensive maintenance in-house in the U.S., but that is likely to change in the aftermath of the company’s merger with US Airways.
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.
Airline mechanics at U.S. airports who perform routine safety checks and maintenance tasks before an airplane takes off report that they are discovering slipshod work done by overseas repair shops. American Airlines mechanics contended in a lawsuit last January that they had been disciplined by management for reporting numerous safety violations they uncovered on airplanes that had recently been serviced in China. Mechanics in Dallas said they had discovered cracked engine pylons, defective doors, and expired oxygen canisters, damage that had simply been painted over, and missing equipment, among other violations. An American spokesperson denied the allegations, contending that the airline’s “maintenance programs, practices, procedures and overall compliance and safety are second to none.” Citing a lack of jurisdiction, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit. The F.A.A., however, is investigating the allegations.