The new bill, not as yet law, requires the Federal Aviation Administration to increase its overseas inspections from once a year to twice a year, and foreign workers would have to submit to the same drug and alcohol testing and criminal background checks that apply to US workers.
The move was inspired by the fact US carriers are farming out aircraft maintenance at twice the rate of four years earlier and now hire outside contractors for more than 70 per cent of major work, of which 25 per cent is performed overseas.
The EC has threatened to pull out of an aviation safety deal because of the move. A US-European Union agreement says each will have comparable safety requirements and inspection systems.
The recent legislation also authorises US$13.4 billion to accelerate the US transition from a radar-based air traffic control system to one based on Global Positioning System technology.