Letter to Representative Oberstar regarding FAA actions on air carriers' use of aircraft repair stations
On July 27, we issued a letter on the results of our review of FAA’s progress in implementing recommendations from our July 2003 audit report on air carriers’ use of repair stations. The review was requested by Representative James Oberstar, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Overall, we believe that FAA’s proposed actions are good, but we are concerned with the planned timetable for their completion. As air carriers work to cut costs, their use of contract maintenance facilities is increasing. Since January 2005, at least three major airlines have announced their plans to decrease their in-house maintenance staff and increase use of repair stations. In our view, FAA needs to re-evaluate its timetable and, if needed, its planned actions to determine if it can expedite improvements to its process for repair station oversight. We note that draft reports from both the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations show restored funding for FAA aviation safety inspector staffing; the funding was reduced in FY 2005. This should provide additional support for repair station oversight.