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Actions Needed to Improve Safety Oversight and Security at Aircraft Repair Stations

On November 18, 2009, the Inspector General testified on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) oversight of repair stations. Air carriers’ use of repair stations has risen dramatically in the last several years – both in the volume and type of repairs outsourced. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) has reported since 2003 that FAA’s oversight of aircraft repair facilities is not robust enough to ensure that outsourced repairs meet FAA standards. Specifically, FAA does not know where all critical outsourced repairs are performed – for both certificated and non–certificated facilities. Instead, it relies heavily on air carriers’ oversight of repair stations – even air carriers with known quality assurance problems. Several of the OIG’s recommendations aimed at improving FAA’s oversight of foreign and domestic repair stations remain open. Successfully implementing these recommendations would allow FAA to identify and target repair facilities in need of safety oversight as well as meet its statutory mandate to provide TSA with information needed to improve security oversight.