More FAA Oversight Of Repair Facilities Needed

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The Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General says the FAA needs to significantly step up oversight of contracted repair facilities used by airlines for everything from minor adjustments to major repairs. The OIG report to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s aviation subcommittee, delivered by DOT Inspector General Calvin Scovell, says the FAA doesn’t always know who’s doing the maintenance or what maintenance is being performed by the thousands of shops --certificated and non-certificated -- all over the world that are used by the airlines. And it also says that airlines don’t always provide accurate information on what’s being fixed where under a new reporting program put in place by the FAA. "Our primary concerns with the reports are that air carriers do not include all repair stations that provide critical component repairs and that FAA does not validate the information provided," the report reads. While he agreed that more oversight is needed, the FAA’s Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety testified that the system remains safe. What’s perhaps more significant is that non-certificated shops appear to be doing an increasing amount of work that is critical to airworthiness, and there’s virtually no oversight of these facilities. "Prior to our review, FAA officials advised us that non-certificated repair facilities only performed minor services, such as welding of parts or changing tires," the report reads. "However, we determined that non-certificated facilities can and do perform the same type of work as FAA-certificated repair stations, including both scheduled and critical maintenance." The OIG found non-certificated stations doing work on flight control systems and even replacing an engine. The work is done by qualified mechanics but non-certificated shops don’t have the reporting and supervisory requirements of certificated shops, Scovell said.