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Airline Industry

Report: Airlines are hiring mechanics who can't speak English, read manuals

May 21, 2009

Investigators reportedly have uncovered evidence of airline repair centers hiring low-wage mechanics who are unable to read English.

Aircraft repair requires even experienced mechanics to frequently consult manuals that are written in English and leave a detailed record of what repairs they have made, according to WFAA-TV.

Still, hundreds of mechanics working in the more than 236 FAA-certified aircraft repair stations in Texas were not familiar enough with the English language to even read the manuals that coincide with the kinds of planes they were expected to fix, WFAA reported.

"There are people [where I work] who do not know how to read maintenance manuals as they are spelled out, because they don't have a clue," one Texas aircraft mechanic told the station.

But hiring a certified mechanic in Texas costs upwards of $25 an hour, compared to the less than $10 technicians who can't speak English will do the work for.

The desire to save money is putting airline safety at risk.

"In my opinion," one mechanic told the station, "company owners should all be locked up because someone's going to die eventually, if it hasn't already happened."

American and Southwest, the state's biggest airlines, both require mechanics and technicians to speak, read and write English, according to WFAA.

The FAA declined to comment, the station reported.

Report: Airlines are hiring mechanics who can't speak English, read manuals
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