San Diego- After learning that many airlines employed non-English reading mechanics, a number of house congressmen sent Obama’s Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood a letter voicing concerns over the safety of airline passengers.
Now that summer is underway and many families are preparing for summer vacations, anxiety about airline safety has been addressed by these congressmen.
Since English is the language in which the complex aircraft manuals are written, Congressman Brian Bilbray-R and 16 others are seeking to make sure the public is never put in danger because a mechanic cannot understand the instructions on how to repair technical aircraft.
The letter calls on the Secretary of Transportation to address this public safety issue by requiring all U.S. resident airline mechanics have an English proficiency section included in their certification exams.
Amid fears that many low-level airline mechanics are unable to read English in the aircraft manuals, congress has looked to the Secretary of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration for answers.
“Public safety demands that we enforce airline safety measures, and this includes language proficiency in both the cockpit and in the hanger where the aircraft are being repaired,” Bilbray said.
It has been documented that back in 2003, US Airways Express crashed after take-off killing 21 people. According to the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) found that mechanics had not connected some cables properly resulting in the crash.
The NTSB found that the mechanics in charge of repairing the cables could not read English that was written on the cables themselves.
The airlines usually hire two sets of mechanics. Certified mechanics make upwards of $25 per hour, however they are able to oversee another set of mechanics that make less than $10 per hour, many whom are unable to read English.
Fixing airplane engines takes highly trained individuals, who follow a strict step-by-step process. Once an airline decides to skimp on wages the consumer can be the one that loses, a former Navy pilot said.
“We believe the minimum fluency standard for aircraft mechanics should be that required of international pilots as set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Moreover, aircraft mechanic applicants should be required to pass their written, oral and practical examinations in English,” the letter to the Transportation Secretary said.
The FAA has declined to comment on this story.
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