Just how friendly are U.S. skies? Former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has been hired to find out.
Ridge, founder of Ridge Global, has inked a deal with Transport Workers Union to conduct a security assessment on U.S. commerical planes that are serviced in hangars overseas.
A Republican who was also the governor of Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2001, Ridge will “evaluate and assess critical repair and maintenance work performed on U.S. passenger aircraft,” his firm said in announcing the contract.
TWU said it has specifically requested that Ridge focus on whether the “off-shoring” of such work to foreign countries is a danger to the American public.
The union is currently in contract negotiations with American Airlines. TWU says that as part of the company’s contract demands, the airline wants to move hundreds of mechanic jobs based in the U.S. overseas — a potentially catastrophic loss of work as well as a major threat to national security, union president John Samuelsen contends.
American Airlines has denied that it wants to outsource its aircraft repair and maintenance to cheaper climes. But it does want to bring in some third-party vendors in the U.S. to take over certain non-mechanical jobs, like de-icing plane, the airline said.
Samuelsen said the union hired Ridge out of workers’ concern that airline industry is putting profits over passengers.
“Mechanics and other ground workers employed at U.S. airlines take great pride in making the U.S. air transportation system the safest and most reliable in the world. We also have a very personal stake in doing things right. Our families fly on the planes we fix,” Samuelsen said.
Most air travelers are unaware that an increasing number of U.S. commercial airlines send their planes to South America and China for vital repair work.
Samuelsen said U.S. government agencies don’t have the same oversight authority on foreign repair shops that they do in America.
Ridge said his firm was going to find out if U.S. air travelers are at greater risk of mechanical failures or potential terrorist attacks as a result of off-shoring.
“A significant amount of airline maintenance by the major carriers is outsourced to contract operations in the U.S. and overseas — work that should be assessed and quantified,” Ridge said.
Original Post: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/transport-workers-union-probe-plane-repairs-overseas-article-1.3688696
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