Kahala777
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Is Outsourcing Safe?

Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:26 am

There has been a thread started in regards to a hole punctured by a non-union outsourced handler from Alaska Airline. Exactly how safe is is for Northwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and other airlines to continue to outsource the safety of the airline industry?

http://www.kirotv.com/news/5680634/detail.html#

KAHALA777
 
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:32 am

Quoting Kahala777 (Thread starter):
There has been a thread started in regards to a hole punctured by a non-union outsourced handler from Alaska Airline. Exactly how safe is is for Northwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and other airlines to continue to outsource the safety of the airline industry?

http://www.kirotv.com/news/5680634/d...html#

Would this include Jetblue, who outsources it's heavy MX to El Salvadore?

B
 
burnsie28
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:37 am

How did I figure he would list Northwest first? Anyway, guess what Kahala your beloved United Airlines is outsourcing its maintnence to Hong Kong! OH NOOO say it isnt true!
 
Kahala777
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:42 am

Quoting NonRevKing (Reply 1):
Would this include Jetblue, who outsources it's heavy MX to El Salvadore?

Yes, this does include Jet Blue...

Quoting Burnsie28 (Reply 2):
How did I figure he would list Northwest first? Anyway, guess what Kahala your beloved United Airlines is outsourcing its maintnence to Hong Kong! OH NOOO say it isnt true!

Yes, this does include United Airlines....

The topic is meant to include all airlines that charge out aircraft upkeep and safety.

KAHALA777
 
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LN-MOW
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Wed Dec 28, 2005 11:33 am

Yes, until they wrap all airline employees and their equipment in bubblewrap and treat them with teflon, outsourcing is just as safe as self handling.
It all comes down to training and procedures.
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APFPilot1985
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Wed Dec 28, 2005 11:38 am

Quoting Kahala777 (Thread starter):
non-union outsourced handler

where does it say that any where? Do you have a source?
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DouglasDC8
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Wed Dec 28, 2005 11:42 am

It's safe if the airline keeps an eye on their vendor. In my experience, some airlines seem to be better at this than others. Don't count on the FAA to keep the aviation system safe. They never have enough manpower to keep a close watch on anything.
 
Kahala777
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Wed Dec 28, 2005 12:58 pm

Quoting APFPilot1985 (Reply 5):
where does it say that any where? Do you have a source?

Read the Alaska Airlines article.

KAHALA777
 
APFPilot1985
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Wed Dec 28, 2005 1:01 pm

Quoting Kahala777 (Reply 7):
Read the Alaska Airlines article.

KAHALA777

You mean the one that quotes a union official saying a non-union outsourced employee did it?
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ZKOJH
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Wed Dec 28, 2005 1:09 pm

well the bosses at NZ are sending there heavy works off shore to Europe and China, at a cost of a few job losses!!
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qutaiba
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Wed Dec 28, 2005 1:15 pm

I believe that there are rules for 'continued monitoring & surveilance' by airlines given in ( I think) FAR 145, they talk about the responsibility of an airline even if the work is done by another party, and what the airline should ensure about the quality & documentation that party should perform. FAR 145 also

And speaking from experience, yes outsourcing is safe, and several airlines worldwide outsource, many of whom have excellent safety record.

It is best done by balancing the matter between quality and cost through an approperiate selection matrix, where bottom line costs do not overweigh the decision vs. the quality of work (as they say: quality does not come cheap).
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Wed Dec 28, 2005 1:18 pm

Quoting Zkojh (Reply 9):
well the bosses at NZ are sending there heavy works off shore to Europe and China, at a cost of a few job losses!!

This is the second time this has happened. The previous time this happened, NZ had headachs repairing their aircraft that was sent overseas for heavy MX. Obviously NZ bosses havnt learnt the hard way yet, hopefully it wont end in a crash.
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apodino
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Thu Dec 29, 2005 1:05 am

I read something about a recent FAA audit of Airline Maintenance. It found that much of the MX is being outsourced to facilities that aren't even certified by the FAA. Apparently the rule is, as long as the mechanic has an FAA A and P, they are good, regardless if the repair shop is certified or not. In my opinion, this is a major problem, becase I believe that if a repair shop is doing work on an airline, the shop should be certified by the FAA, otherwise you have accountability issues, and I think the airline could face even more lawsuits as a result.
 
MaverickM11
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Thu Dec 29, 2005 1:21 am

This should be put in perspective by listing all the crashes that were due to maintenance issues at airlines that have in house maintenance.
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BigOrange
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Thu Dec 29, 2005 2:14 am

In the UK most ramp operations have been outsourced for years, with the exception of BA/BD, plus a few others at LHR who used other airlines for ground handling.

IIRC all LH outside Germany is outsourced to Globeground. Not sure about this Menzies company but by all accounts they make Globeground look like experts.

Servisair don't exactly have a good track record either.
 
swissy
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Thu Dec 29, 2005 2:43 am

Globe Ground (Hudson) is no longer it is now Serviceair, however in realitly it comes down to proper pricing of the out sourced work, the competiton is so great they are under biting each other like there is no tomorrow and the result is.... cutting some corners.
I know all these company's have polices and procedures in place but with such a small margin training is suffering..........the hourly rate is low....

Cheers,
 
ca2ohHP
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Thu Dec 29, 2005 3:43 am

Nearly every airline in the world outsources some part of their operation. B6 outsources their ramp at KBUR, FJ is handled by AA at KLAX, to name a few. These companies are required (in the United States) by the FAA to be trained under the respective carriers training program.
 
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Crosswind
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Thu Dec 29, 2005 4:21 am

Servisair and GlobeGround have merged, the new company being know as Servisair GlobeGround.

Quoting BigOrange (Reply 14):
In the UK most ramp operations have been outsourced for years, with the exception of BA/BD, plus a few others at LHR who used other airlines for ground handling.

Large parts of British Airways and bmi handling is now outsourced, British Midland's handling division was sold off to Aviance several years ago, and even at major UK station while bmi staff handle some of the face-to-face passenger handling, the below-wing functions are carried out by Aviance at virtually all stations. Same with British Airways at Manchester, with below-wing handling carried out by Ringway Handling.

In my opinion outsourcing ground handling is safe, or at least no more dangerous than doing it yourself.

Self-handling airlines wouldn't in general be paying their staff much higher wages, but the overall costs of self-handling are a lot higher because you generally cannot use your staff and equipment efficiently just to cover your own flights, whereas a handling agent can will divide staff and equipment over several different airlines, generating economies of scale and also keeping staff occupied on other airline's flights during your quiet periods.

All US carriers outsource ground-handling at international stations, I wouldn't say their international operations were less safe than their domestic operations because the ground handling is outsourced.

Plus ground-handling is far more than loading and pushback crews, fueling and catering is already outsourced by virtually every airline on the face of the planet, everywhere. A fuel or catering truck is just as likely to be unsafe around an aircraft if all due care isn't taken as a baggage belt or airbridge...

For all those who are calling for those who cause damage to aircraft to be immediately dismissed or disciplined are missing one of the major factors in unreported ground-damage of aircraft: fear of reprisal. Many ramp workers are fairly low paid, and could be reluctant to jeapordise their only family income for damage which to them seems like just a scratch, even though a paint scratch may be outside SRM limits.

My airline operates a "no-blame" policy for damage caused by ground-handling staff. This is for one reason only - safety. The company wants people to report all damage, as soon as it occurs, without fear of personal reprisals. Most costs are recovered by insurance anyway, but the costs of a major accident caused by unreported ground damage could be enough to fold the company. It just isn't worth it.

Latest policy to reduce possibility of unreported ground damage is for pilots to complete their walkaround as late as practically possible in the turnaround to minimise chances of damage occuring afterwards. At one point it was usual for the crew to complete the walkaround shortly after arrival to check for damage sustained on the previous flight, that emphasis has now changed.

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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Thu Dec 29, 2005 6:27 am

This is a weird question. What if an airline had employees that had no union and were paid $8 an hour and then outsourced it to a company represented by TWU and were paid, say, $11.50 an hour. Would it be unsafe then?

No offense to rampers here, but the job isn't exactly open heart surgery. Almost anyone - if properly trained - could do the job. Maybe not well, but it would get done.

And what does it matter if there is a union or not? It's the FAAs job to make sure procedures are being done correctly, not Teamster's. It's OSHA's job to make sure workers are working in a safe environment, not IAM's.

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dl1011
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Thu Dec 29, 2005 8:12 am

The question of outsourcing tends to produce some very heated comments, both for and against.

My comments are based only on my observations and experience over the past 18 years, working ramp and mtc.
My comments and observations are also focused on the US industry. No disrespect intended for the other-then-US readers, but other then knowing that the training requirements for Western European Engineers is higher then the FAA A&P, I know nil about other countries procedures.

As far as ramp goes, there doesn't seem to be a middle ground. If you use a contract company, the wages are very low with poor to no benefits. I think Menzies in SEA is paying about 9 bucks an hour with no benefits and from reading the news articles, they have a HUGE turnover rate. That means the experience level is always low and one has to wonder if there is time for proper training and safety. The recent Alaska damage only highlites the risks.

On the other hand, I don't think a ramp job should be a career. It's a tough, hard job and while I enjoyed it for the couple of years that I worked it, I wouldn't want to do it now.

Outsourced mtc is a whole different beast. I absolutely think that the trend to outsource is very dangerous and driven ONLY by money. I do not believe and probably will never believe that a third party provider can produce as high a quality product as an in house mtc department.

The third party providers tend to pay less, provide fewer benefits and DO NOT require an A&P certificate. The local third party provider does not require ANY aircraft experience at all! I also suspect that background checks and drug screening requirements are not as tight.


FAA oversight is lacking and their staffing levels are way too low to provide proper enforcement. The dual mandate of promoting aviation and providing oversight sets up a conflict right out of the box. If an Inspector is too tough on an airline, a complaint by the airline will bring pressure on the Inspector to back off.
 
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Thu Dec 29, 2005 8:44 am

Quoting LN-MOW (Reply 4):
It all comes down to training and procedures.

Thats not entirely true. You can develop the best training procedures and guidelines in the industry, but ensuring that they're adhered to on a consistent basis becomes extremely difficult. In the case of outsourced maintenance (I'll stay away from ground handling, not my area of expertise), how do you ensure proper quality control when one licensed mechanic/engineer is 'overseeing' the work of a dozen unlicensed laborers? Is it realistic that safety and quality work will trump economics when a third party Mx provider is swimming in red ink? Who is actually and pragmatically accountable? Does that person(s) have a vested interest in the airworthiness of that aircraft, or does their performance bonus matter more than letting an "insignificant" problem ride?
You can dismiss this as a union diatribe, but this is real world stuff. I'm not claiming that the sky is falling, but the questions about outsourcing are valid.
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Thu Dec 29, 2005 4:49 pm

As long as the Outsourced Firm follows the rules set by the Regulatory Authority its fine.
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miamiair
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Thu Dec 29, 2005 9:00 pm

In the US, it is the Air Carrier's responsibility to oversee the maintenance that is outsourced. Since the Air Carrier is operating under an FAA certificate, the FAA oversees the Air Carrier. We operate under a 145 certificate, so the FAA oversees us as well. The Air Carriers do audits, which in some case are more in depth than what the FAA does.

There are large 145s in the US that get major 121 work. For example, Delta has Avborne Heavy Maintenance doing MD-88 and B737 checks. Mobile Aerospace, TIMCO, Lockheed/Greenville, Goodyear all get major work.

But, and here is what I have a problem with...I have seen a DC-8 go down south(South America) for a heavy check. I remembered seeing a crack in a lower wing, trailing edge panel (Not the wing skin) which was about 2.5-in. long. When the airplane returned 10 days later, the crack was still there. It had been "pencil whipped." Either that or Mr. Magoo was the inspector and never got written up; but it was very hard to miss.

You get what you pay for. Labor rates at US 145s are in the high 30s to low 40s per man hour. Go to Central America and you get three guys for the price of one. Most of the repair technicians do not read or understand English. Why is this important you ask? Because the technical data is in ENGLISH. Someone has to read, comprehend and accomplish the instructions accordingly. Their personal tools leave a lot to be desired, and a lot of tools are improvised. But, yes another one, I have seen some structural work that is a work of art(in Colombia), that I would have expect from an old "tin pecker" here in the US.

I have experienced both foreign and domestic repair stations and don't have a problem with either, so long as the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed, i.e. follow the regs, and have a personal sense of responsibility and accountability.
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ANCFlyer
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Thu Dec 29, 2005 9:38 pm

Quoting Kahala777 (Thread starter):
Is Outsourcing Safe?

Obviously not if you're an AS MD80 on the SEA Ramp.  Wow!

As I mentioned in the thread on the AS incident . . . . outsourcing provides no one doing that job any incentive to do a good or better job. None. The employees working for the outsource provider do not have any "ownership" in the company for which they are working.

In the case of the AS Incident, what does Menzies contractor ramp widget give a hoot about AS?? Certainly they do not. And it wouldn't matter if it was AS, UA, DL, CO . . . . if Menzies loses the contract, it will likely be picked up by some other company and the widget(s) simply transferred over to the new company. . . that is simply how contracting works in alot of instances.

AS screwed themselves in this case as the number of accidents on the ramp has increased markedly, from 9 last year to over 70 under Menzies.

My take on any outsourcing - "be careful what you wish for/pay for - you may get it".

In the case of AS: lousy, lazy, inadequate, questionable integrity support. S is throwing good $$$ after bad.
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globetrekker
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Fri Dec 30, 2005 2:55 pm

From a ground handling point of view:

I started my career as an outsourcing CSA for KLM in Aruba. First I worked for an airline that handled KLM (Air Aruba) and later Menzies. At Menzies KLM paid for what is called "dedicated staff"... meaning that the Menzies agents wore KLM uniforms and were trained by KLM on location or in Amsterdam. This included Passenger Handling, Baggage Services, Operations and Maintenance.
We even got flight benefits, although restricted. Menzies was monitored by KLM Station Management on every aspect and once every quarter Management Outstations would come to AUA to audit us.

Later I crossed over to KLM. Same uniform, same training. Only now my job (together with Station Management) was to monitor the ground handling at AUA, CUR, BON and SXM. We made sure KLM's procedures were carried out, that product knowledge was optimal and we tried to stimulate the agents to "think blue".
Line Maintenance in AUA, BON, CUR and SXM was now done in-house by KLM Engineering & Maintenance.

The goal that we at KLM Station Management tried to achieve is to create one big KLM family, no matter where your paycheck came from. Some non-KLM staff feel ownership for the company, while others do not.
The company that handles KLM also handle other carriers, however KLM does not allow for the agent to "cross-over", unless for special circumstances. We noticed a major surge in service excellence, when we started to provide flight benefits. They got unlimited flight passes on KLM... boy did that make a difference!

But considering the money KLM saves by outsourcing (a lot!!) it's the only way to do things nowadays. KLM and Swissport have a worldwide agreement in outsourcing.

On the other hand I see AA does self-handling (above the wing) at a small station like AUA. I find that amazing! That must cost a lot of $$$. UA, DL and CO are all handled by third-party handlers with dedicated staff... so everyone wears the airline uniform and is trained in IAD, ATL and EWR.

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PurdueAv2003
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Fri Dec 30, 2005 3:21 pm

Quoting ANCFlyer (Reply 23):
As I mentioned in the thread on the AS incident . . . . outsourcing provides no one doing that job any incentive to do a good or better job. None. The employees working for the outsource provider do not have any "ownership" in the company for which they are working.

You hit the nail on the head! I have seen plenty of outsourced work come back as "questionable", not necessarily a safety issue, but poorly done. The guys that know their paychecks rely on these birds flying safely and on time do much better work.

Quoting Miamiair (Reply 22):
Most of the repair technicians do not read or understand English. Why is this important you ask? Because the technical data is in ENGLISH. Someone has to read, comprehend and accomplish the instructions accordingly.

Not only tech docs, but log books, tech service items, engineering orders, etc. How is a technician supposed to check for problem's history if they can't read the log book? If an engineer writes an order for a repair to be accomplished at next heavy check, it needs to be done and done correctly.
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L-188
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Fri Dec 30, 2005 4:29 pm

In some cases outsourcing the work is the safer option.

Yes I really said that.

I used to work for a 135 operator who operated a couple of Lears. Lears have a couple of major inspections that actually require the wing to be taken off the airplane. This requires some substantial and expensive jigs and everything has to go back in the right way.

If you only have a couple of aircraft you are probably only going to do this inspection a couple times a decade, so you can't economically justify the cost of the equipment. Plus it is infrequent, so the mechanics would be working from the books.

Compare this to the work a repair station that would specialize in lears. They would do eneough of these inspections a year so the mechanics would be familiar with the procedure.

I would make an arguement the outsourced maintaince would be the better option.
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nonfirm
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Fri Dec 30, 2005 6:00 pm

L-188 you are talking about a whole different type of outsourcing.Many operators do this for special items because that is a major part of what the other company does.I know for us at AS when we had items that need to be completed like this the other company's would come in to our facility to complete this type of task before we outsourced all of our maint.As for the quality of the outsource work it is not as high as the level of a/c we would put out of our own maint shops and this is due in large to the amount of work that the vendor has at the time your a/c our in .There also is no constant workforce for you a/c the people who started working on your a/c in the morning will be working on something else by lunch.I know that the reliability of the a/c from the vendor is not as reliable as the a/c from in house maint we can tell this buy the type of pilot write up's we get now based on what we had just a year ago.We had a much more reliable fleet then.  Smile
 
FlyGuyClt
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RE: Is Outsourcing Safe?

Sat Dec 31, 2005 12:55 am

As far as if it is safe?

Just compare the numbers of incidents from the loyal and dedicated employees versus the numbers from the "outsource" employees. The numbers answer all your questions without any bias.

Safe Flying  Smile
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