Tuesday, October 20, 2009

But we'll pay you in shiny beads...(part 2)

If you were one of the 4 readers that we have on the Lawyer and Engineer blog, you may have read the rant that the engineer had about outsourcing labor, especially for companies looking to avoid the unpleasantness of regulations or environmental impact. Well, it seems to be a timely subject because of the news lately on the airline industry outsourcing the maintenance of the airlines.

It seems that the airlines have been outsourcing the maintenance of airliners that normally would have to go into a FAA certified maintenance facility for inspections and repair. Now why would they do that? In business, services are changed for only 2 reasons. The service can be provided cheaper or faster or a combination of the two. Now some times, faster can mean a new manufacturing method has been developed that actually produces something that is a higher quality. That is called progress and everybody wins. But when it comes time for labor intensive jobs, like inspection and repair for airliners, how can things be inspected by a person faster without shortcuts being made??

There is extensive manuals written for aircraft inspection that must be followed exactly step by step. Are you going to feel better, flying at 30,000 ft, when you know they went from a person that makes 40k per year and follows procedure and repairs with specified structural parts to a person making 4000 dollars per year and any delay is destroying their thin profit margin?

When your running shoes or plastic coat hangers are made overseas, maybe it may not cause you some concern but here is a sobering statistic for ya....

Airline maintenance outsourcing (as percentage of total expenses)
AIRLINE 2005 2006 2007 (through 3Q)
Alaska 92% 80% 81%
Hawaiian 80% 86% 89%
US Airways* 77% 81% 80%
Northwest 76% 83% 81%
America West 76% 91% 91%
Continental 69% 68% 70%
JetBlue 68% 64% 65%
Southwest 68% 81% 85%
AirTran 66% 93% 94%
Frontier 65% 79% 80%
United 63% 66% 67%
Delta 48% 73% 72%
American 46% 49% 51%
ATA*** 18% 85% 87%

There are some pretty wide loopholes allowing this to continue without FAA over site. I don't know about the rest of our 4 people reading, but that scares the crap out of me.


  1. Lawyer: Ummm. Just one criticism. We have NINE followers, not four. That is a blatant act of incivility to the five others you dishonor.