Airlines: Is Faulty Maintenance A Greater Threat Than Terrorism?

Lax standards for plane mechanics may compromise safety

The crash of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island has made terrorism the air-safety issue of the moment. But investigators studying this spring's ValuJet crash in the Florida Everglades have stumbled upon a safety problem that may pose an even greater threat: poorly trained mechanics with questionable credentials. Officials of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have told BUSINESS WEEK they found several mechanics at a repair facility used by ValuJet Airlines Inc. in Miami who allegedly could not understand much English--the most basic requirement for certification in the U.S.

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