Alone among big U.S. carriers, American Airlines performs major maintenance in-house, rather than outsourcing the task to independent repair shops. The practice has won praise from labor groups, even as it creates PR headaches due to FAA fines and government audits. "Once again they are damned if they outsource the maintenance jobs and damned if they maintain high-paying U.S. jobs as regulatory oversight makes this decision even more uneconomic," says industry consultant William Swelbar of M.I.T.

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