Skip to comments.Aircraft repair jobs sold to foreign workers, resumes not important
Posted on 07/02/2009 8:33:00 AM PDT by BGHater
A News 8 investigation found that 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, theyre 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.
News 8 found theyre from Mexico, the Philippines and Chile, among other places. They have been brought specifically to the United States to work for San Antonio Aerospace (SAA). News 8 followed a special bus San Antonio Aerospace, used to pick up foreign workers every morning. Workers riding on the bus were from the Philippines. The workers, who wouldnt say how much money they make, are part of a stream of imported mechanics brought to this country at cut-rate wages, according to several sources familiar with the business.
Jada Williams used to work for one of the contracting companies, Aircraft Workers Worldwide (AWW), based in Daphne, Alabama. AWW supplied workers for two facilities, Mobile Aerospace Engineering (MAE) in Mobile, Alabama and San Antonio Aerospace, which are both controlled by ST Aerospace. San Antonio Aerospace is a division of ST Aerospace, the largest aircraft repair company in world.
"Theyve employed over 200 since I left, said Williams, who said she was unfairly fired by the contractor last fall. "And I know we had over a hundred when I was in there, just in Mobile.
She said in San Antonio, AWW supplied 600 workers. The workers stay in the United States and come from various countries because of the different kinds of visas available in those places.
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 couldnt have had.
"There had been padded resumes at SAA before, said an administrator at another contractor. Thats why another contract house was kicked out (of SAA).
One former SAA mechanic, who spent years learning his trade before being laid off, said foreign workers got their training on the job from the Americans they worked with.
"The more experienced mechanics, we would get paired up with either one or two of these guys, he says. And they would watch us for a month or so. And thats how they would get their training.
Williams is suing her former boss, Daniel Harding, for unlawful termination and racial discrimination. She has a computer full of company documents that were acquired accidentally when AWW got new computers for its office and gave her an old one. Spreadsheets, resumes and payrolls revealed many company practices, from interviews, to trips to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City for visas, charts marked the progress of Mexican workers to the United States. Documents also showed workers were charged $3,500 each by AWW to get into the United States.
Williams also has an e-mail trail from AWW president Harding to Moh Loong Loh, the President of San Antonio Aerospace. He described one candidate as having 25 percent English skills.
Workers need English to communicate with their supervisors and to read repair manuals, so this is a key safety issue. American SAA workers said many imports cannot speak English at all.
In another e-mail, Harding described a group of imported workers from Mexico, just like a commodity.
I hope to be able to bring increments no larger than ten at a time, he wrote to Loh.
While this was happening, SAA former wokers said they got laid off.
I feel like we are being betrayed in our own country, said one who was terminated. And I feel it is not right.
These big layoffs of 20 to 30 people would go out, said the contract administrator. The very next Monday, 30 or 40 [imports] would be coming in.
Williams said in Mobile the numbers were even bigger. She said she picked up a group of 60 people from Puerto Rico at Mobile Regional Airport last February. Since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, its residents are U.S citizens. For the contractors, this is a bonus because they can pay the Puerto Ricans low wages without having to deal with foreign immigration requirements.
When the FAA came to inspect San Antonio Aerospace, the company got a one-hour warning, said a former employee.
And a lot of guys who were not able to read English, they would hide those guys or send them home for the evening," the former employee said.
News 8 submitted written questions to both SAA in San Antonio and MAE in Mobile. The questions asked how many foreign workers they employ and what they are paid. The response from each said we are an equal opportunity employer. Another question was whether AWW is owned by ST Aerospace. The terse answer was no, AWW is an independent contractor.
AWW did not respond to questions. An attorney retained by the company and Daniel Hardin said Mr. Hardin is a responsible businessman who has greatly benefitted his community and his country.
In Dallas, former judge David Finn, now in private practice, told News 8 that all the companies involved may face serious questions.
Federal prosecutors would probably look at making false statements, material false statements," he said. "Thats a federal offense, a felony ... Mail fraud, wire fraud, there are any number of statues on the books that would apply to a situation like that.
Time to invest in a parachute company....
I was under the impression that one needed an FAA A&P license to work on certificated aircraft? How is this not
My last round trip involved three mechanicals. ( Delays , cancellations due to mechanical problems with the planes.)
This scares the heck out of me.
We can fix this with new taxes, regulations and easier immigration
Have heard that Alaska Air flies their jets down to facilities in Guatemala to save on maintainence costs...anyone here know if this is true?
You are correct in the commercial industry and why when Kelly AFB was closed so many workers went into a panic because A&P licenseis not required of Government workers. They were given classes in A&P at the local junior college and always wondered if their test results were faked.
SA-ALC had their own shady side and I am sure some of the powers at the Depot which closed are now helping run these companies. When they were repairing the roofs, workers would be sent up on the roofs before the employees got there in the morning and come down at night after they left.
The Depot had so much questionable work on the B-52’s that the planes had to be flight checked again at Tinker AFB before they could go back in the fleet.
Workers would sleep in the C-5’s and they would find beer cans in the planes going their depot maintenance. Staff Assistance Visits and IG Inspections always turned up major problems at that depot. It needed to be shut and during the transition after we were transfered to Tinker AFB, it came out about the ghost employees that were paid for more then a year but never showed up. If they spent as much time working as they did getting out of work, the depot would have been better off. Not all employees, but a good number of them were not good workers which is why I was shocked to see commercial repair go into the facility.
Saw it up close and personal as my husband was a General Manager supervisor at SA-ALC and had all GS people working for him. Flextime was a joke — some would come in only during core hours from 9-3. They finally did away with it but they would come in at 8:00, go for coffee for an hour, come back, go to early lunch, etc. Anytime you pulled up to the new facility, you would see the same people outside smoking. If you gave bad appraisals, management would get rid of the supervisor. Corrupt place IMHO.
“We can fix this with new taxes, regulations and easier immigration”
I will assume that is sarcasm. How ‘easy’ shall we make immigration?
In fiscal 2008, 1.45 million new migrants were granted work permits.
Okay. PAY ATTENTION! What does this mean? AND KEEP IT IN MIND the next time someone (like LaRaza & their media) says we allow only 1 million legal entries into this country per year and dont allow enough people to legally immigrate!
More than 1 million people became citizens in 2008*
Thats 2.5 million legal immigrants a year right there.
This does not count student visas or vistor visas which the government admits half dont go home.
This does not include asylum seekers....hard to tell, but I would venture another million. In one year we got 6 figures of them from Honduras alone.
What this means is we allow 4 to 5 MILLION LEGAl entries per year! Mosty from MEXICO*
Amnesty has to be defeated!
* Hispanics made up nearly half of the more than 1 million people who became U.S. citizens last year,
Because you can work under the supervision of a licensed mechanic, as long as he will sign off the work. Most of these type places are “Certified Repair Stations”, almost no one needs to be licensed.
A&P, with IA (Inspection Authorization). The IA is a fun test, just have to memorize where everything is in the FAR’s.
No license needed for govt work. The FAA has no jurisdiction on military aircraft. Different set of rules.
In a word - NO.
5/28/2009 10:12 a.m.
SEATTLE Alaska Airlines has received its eighth consecutive Diamond Award for maintenance training excellence from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This is the sixth consecutive year Alaska received the award with the distinction of Special Recognition, an honor given only when all eligible employees participate in the Aviation Maintenance Technician Awards (AMT) program.
The FAA also presented Alaska Airlines with a special award to recognize its six-year record of 100-percent participation in the AMT program.
“This award underscores our commitment to the core values of safety and compliance,” said Fred Mohr, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of maintenance and engineering. “In order to achieve this commitment and be at the top of our game, we make a daily investment in the training and technical excellence of our technicians. I am so proud of everything we do to ensure the safety and compliance of our airline. In my opinion, we have the best technicians in the industry.”
The FAA also honored 736 Alaska Airlines employees with individual AMT Awards. Anchorage, Alaska-based Lead Aircraft Technician Patrick Durbin and Seattle-based Technical Training Instructor Ray Bundrick received the highest honor the Diamond Award for completing more than 100 hours of training in 2008.
The Aviation Maintenance Technician Awards program began in 1991. Its purpose is to provide incentives for aviation maintenance technicians to participate actively in initial and recurrent training programs, either on their own or in programs subsidized by their employer.
They still work out of Sea-Tac.
Their contractors OTOH, are something else.
Don’t even ask about the baggage monkeys.
I work in the aerospace field-I believe Mobile Aerospace is itself a foreign company (Singapore)
I believe that there are a lot of scumbag companies who don’t give a damn about quality who would hire 8 year old kids if it would be cheaper.
I spent nearly 5 years building the B2 Stealth Bomber-talk about fraud,waste, and abuse! Kelly Johnson must be turning in his grave.
That is a loophole in the regs. If it is a certified repair station you only need certified individuals (a&p’s) to supervise and inspect the work not to perform it. Thats how these places can get away with it. This makes me sick! I am an 18 year veteran to this industry this is my craft. I lay awake at night thinking about my days work knowing that I did it in a safe manner wodering if I could have done it better. That is the responsibility that this job requires and everyone used to hold dear. Now it has been cheapened and frankly it makes me afraid of flying on any airline!
Remember the cost overruns on the C-5 too?
I heard the B-2 manufacturing was badly run for years. Looks like you have confirmed.
Well-trained and skilled workers only!
Don’t they get it?
The air carrier moguls are making bucks at the expense of aircraft safety, and if one plane crashes due to a fault, the company is responsible.
Exactly! The big aircraft manufacturers don’t care at all or they would do something about it. In fact, Boeing would never have located at Kelly but they got it cheap from the city.