If you are spooked by the spate of recent airline crashes, read no further. You may not want to think about who worked on maintaining the next airplane you ride on. And don't let your mind turn to the question of how the elaborate and expensive regulatory bureaucracy allowed this to happen. Put it all out of your mind. Unless you value your life, that is.
WFAA Television (You have to love the way its call letters recapitulate the principal aviation regulator) reports:
...hundreds of aircraft mechanics have been brought into the United States to work at aircraft repair facilities.
Insiders say the companies that are importing the mechanics are so eager to save money, they're overstating their qualifications. The result may be a threat to safety, abetted by lax enforcement of immigration law.
At daybreak any morning at San Antonio Aerospace, hundreds of workers amble through the gates for the day shift. They repair big jets like Airbuses, Boeing 757s and MD-11s. But, despite the fact that it's a huge facility in the middle of the San Antonio International Airport, a large number of the mechanics are only temporary workers from foreign countries. ...
San Antonio Aerospace uses several contracting companies to supply it with workers. It can be a high-profit business for the contractors. They can make $3 to $12 an hour for every worker hired by SAA, contractors say.
The drive for profits is so big, Williams and other insiders said, that the contractors often falsify the qualifications of the imports.
"We had two," she said. "One of them was a female. She was about 16. It was a brother and a sister. One guy was a grocery bagger, one was a security guard in Puerto Rico. Their ages were between 18 and 22."
Their ages are important because it takes years of experience or schooling to learn how to repair a big jet, experience they couldn't have had.
"There had been padded resumes at SAA before," said an administrator at another contractor. "That's why another contract house was kicked out (of SAA)."
Hat tip: Bryan Demko