Two US Democrat congressmen have accused FAA or failing to implement mandatory drug and alcohol testing for workers at foreign aircraft repair stations.

US Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) and Rick Larsen (D-Washington) have described their complaints in a June 28 letter to FAA and Department of Transportation (DOT) secretary Elaine Chao.

“The only thing consistent about the FAA’s oversight of these FAA-certificated facilities—which number more than 700 abroad—is its inconsistency, leaving far too many stones unturned,” DeFazio and Larsen wrote. “We therefore are utterly confused by and disappointed with the FAA’s failure to finalize a rule requiring that workers at foreign repair stations be subject to screening for alcohol and controlled substance use—just as workers at US facilities are—despite two explicit Congressional mandates directing the FAA to act.”

In recent years, US airlines have steadily outsourced maintenance and repairs to foreign countries. Since 2003, the DOT Inspector General has issued multiple reports and congressional testimony emphasizing the need for FAA to strengthen its oversight of foreign repair stations to ensure contract repairs meet FAA safety standards. Congress has passed provisions—in 2012 and again in 2016— instructing the agency to promulgate a rule mandating safety-sensitive employees at foreign repair stations be subjected to drug and alcohol training. In 2014, FAA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to address the issue, but has so far made no apparent progress on the rule, according to the two congressmen.

“Failure to reduce these security vulnerabilities at foreign facilities poses immense risks to the safety of the flying public ... Until this rule is complete, be advised that we will continue pressing your Department to act and will pursue any legislative solutions available that can address your Department’s inaction,” DeFazio and Larsen wrote.

An FAA spokesperson told ATW that the agency “continues to review and address a variety of industry and intergovernmental comments to the proposed rule,” and is providing its response to Reps. DeFazio and Larsen.

Ben Goldstein, Ben.Goldstein@aviationweek.com