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Airline Safety

Travel Professionals Concerned about Airline Maintenance

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Apr 07, 2008

2008–Business Travel Coalition (BTC) today published survey results regarding aircraft maintenance, outsourcing and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversight that underline a deepening concern over the safety of U.S. airlines. Against recent FAA and airline industry safety revelations, passengers are less willing to fly, have skipped recent flights and plan to avoid air travel in the future.

Concern regarding passenger safety and homeland security is driving a strong desire for additional maintenance-related consumer information to assist passengers in choosing an airline on which to travel. There is likewise strong support for an independent top-to-bottom review of FAA as well as worry that the environment is a victim of certain outsourcing practices.

The BTC survey was conducted from April 1 through April 3, and was conducted online. Survey invitations were emailed to 1,300 randomly selected travel industry professionals from BTC’s community of some 33,000 industry, government and media participants; 223 completed the survey. Respondents were asked to consider the survey from an individual passenger perspective. Complete survey findings can be found at

Key survey findings include:

• Sixty-five (65) percent of survey participants were completely unaware that airworthiness-critical maintenance on aircraft is being performed at non FAA-certificated repair facilities around the world, facilities that FAA often does not know exist.

• Ninety-four (94) percent of participants are very concerned or somewhat concerned about the overall aircraft maintenance and FAA oversight situation.

• Forty (40) percent are less willing to fly due to current aircraft maintenance issues.

• Thirteen (13) percent have skipped recent flights due to maintenance concerns.

• Twenty-five (25) percent indicate they are very likely or fairly likely to skip future flights.

• Sixty-five (65) percent would find it useful to know, at the time of booking a flight, information regarding where an aircraft was last maintained, or routinely maintained.

• Eighty-two (82) percent would find useful a “scorecard” that rated airlines’ overall maintenance programs.

• Seventy-five (75) percent would book an airline that maintained its aircraft at its own facilities, with FAA-certificated mechanics and FAA oversight, over another airline that outsourced its aircraft maintenance.

• Eighty-two (82) percent are very concerned or somewhat concerned about the environmental impact of toxic wastes from heavy aircraft maintenance being dumped into the ground or rivers, or about airplanes are being flown empty to and from foreign countries for maintenance.

• Eighty-three (83) percent would find very useful or somewhat useful an independent and expert top-to-bottom strategic review of FAA with respect to its mission, structure, financing, culture and possible systemic problems.

• Sixty-two (62) percent believe homeland security and passenger safety-related issues associated with aircraft maintenance outsourcing should be addressed by Presidential candidates.

“It was acknowledged often during last week’s U.S. House Transportation Committee hearing that a strategic review of FAA is required. BTC hopes that the Senate Commerce Committee hearing April 10 will advance this critical initiative to address systemic problems at the agency,” stated BTC chairman Kevin Mitchell. “Airlines would be well-counseled not to sidestep these maintenance concerns as they have passenger service issues in recent years. The consequences for the airline industry could be highly problematic,” said Mitchell.

The Coalition cautions that if professional travel industry participants, including airline managers and former airline CEOs, are deeply concerned about maintenance issues, then what that portends for airlines with respect to millions of average passengers is significant, especially against a slowing economy. What’s more, the highly-leveraged airline industry can ill-afford to lose even a small percentage of high-yield business travel passengers. Of importance is that there is an apparent demand by consumers for transparency regarding airline maintenance practices that would truly drive the marketplace in this area. BTC is committed to finding a solution to this information need.

BTC’s Mitchell added, “It is unconscionable that the FAA reauthorization bill is gridlocked in the Senate. The currently drafted legislation, a version of which has been approved by the House, has some important provisions designed to address aircraft maintenance problems. Inaction in the Senate would place airline passengers and the nation at increasing risk if new legislation is deferred and required to be written and negotiated anew in 2009.”

About BTC
Founded in 1994, the mission of the Business Travel Coalition is to bring transparency to industry and government policies and practices so that customers can influence issues of strategic importance to them.

Travel Professionals Concerned about Airline Maintenance

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