In a move under consideration for “decades,” the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced yesterday (Dec. 6) it plans to mandate that aviation repair stations in foreign countries require their employees to submit to drug and alcohol testing if they perform safety-sensitive maintenance procedures for U.S. airlines. According to the FAA, such testing is rare, and the new requirement would affect approximately 977 repair facilities in 65 countries.
The FAA wrote that the testing would ensure that “employees are held to the same high level of safety standards, regardless of where they are physically located.”
The Transport Workers Union said that the U.S. airline industry has generated 35,000 jobs for aircraft mechanics offshore since 2017, while eliminating more than 5,000 technician jobs at home. Union President John Samuelsen told Reuters that under the new rules, “Airline mechanics in China and other lower-wage, lower-standard countries who work on U.S. commercial aircraft will have to undergo drug and alcohol testing—just like mechanics here.”
According to the FAA, some U.S.-based maintenance facilities argue they “are operating at an economic disadvantage as maintenance facilities abroad are not required to subject employees to drug and alcohol testing and, therefore, are essentially circumventing the associated costs to maintain a testing program.”
The FAA estimated the future cost to airlines of repair stations overseas complying with the new rules would be $102.3 million over a five-year span.