FAA proposes obligatory drug, alcohol testing for foreign aircraft-repair shop employees


(MENAFN) The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has put forth a proposal for mandatory drug and alcohol testing for employees working in aircraft-repair shops located in other countries. The move, long advocated by labor unions and Congress, aims to enhance safety measures and protect jobs in the United States. According to the FAA, the proposed regulations would impact nearly 1,000 repair shops in 65 countries. However, shops in nations where mandatory testing conflicts with local laws can apply for an exemption, as outlined in a notice scheduled to be published in the Federal Register.

Labor unions representing U.S. aircraft mechanics have persistently urged increased scrutiny of foreign repair shops, emphasizing the significance of safety considerations and safeguarding domestic employment. The push for such regulations gained momentum in 2012 when Congress directed the FAA to develop testing protocols for overseas repair facilities. The FAA's progress has been gradual, citing potential objections from other countries and their repair station operators.

While the FAA had previously cited a lack of data on the additional safety benefits of testing foreign workers, the recent proposal underscores a shift in perspective. The agency now contends that mandatory testing would represent "an important step in our overall safety mission," particularly as so few countries currently require such measures. The announcement has been met with approval from U.S. unions representing aircraft mechanics.

Leaders of the Transport Workers Union and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers commended the FAA's reversal, considering it a positive move toward addressing concerns related to outsourcing critical maintenance tasks for U.S.-flagged passenger jets. They assert that this regulatory step will not only bolster passenger safety but also contribute to bringing jobs back to the United States. According to the Transport Workers Union, foreign repair shops have added 35,000 jobs since 2017, while U.S. shops have seen a reduction of 5,000 jobs during the same period.

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