Congress to require background checks on contract aviation maintenance workers

Published 22 December 2005

What’s in a preposition: If you do maintenance work on a U.S. aircraft and work for the airline, you are subject to a thorough background check; if you do maintenance work on a U.S. aircraft but do not work for the airline (say, you work for a subcontractor), you are not subject to background checks. This will now change

Members of Congress were not pleased to learn that illegal immigrants were doing maintenance work on U.S. commercial aircraft. Representative Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) has now a bill requiring background checks for all employees of domestic and foreign repair stations. The airline industry does not like it, because turning to outside contractors to do maintenance work was one way for the financially ailing industry to cope with its problems. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has authorized more than 600 foreign and 4,570 domestic repair shops to work on U.S. planes and parts, according to an FAA fact sheet. Trouble is, repair station workers are not required to clear a background investigation because they do not work directly for U.S. airlines. Federal law requires the airlines’ in-house mechanics to pass a ten-year criminal check. Andrews’s bill (H.R. 4582) would require workers at contract repair stations to undergo a criminal history check and a review of all available law enforcement records.

-read more in this CQ report