Recent reports that hundreds of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified mechanics are unable to comprehend the English language has led Rep. Brian Bilbray and 16 additional Members of Congress to contact Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood with their concerns.

Despite the fact that FAA certification requirements mandate that mechanics “must be able to read, write, speak and understand the English language,” an investigation by a Dallas television station found irregularities at numerous FAA certified repair stations in Texas. Reporters from News 8, a station with the ironic call letters WFAA, discovered that many repair centers were hiring non-English proficient workers at lower wages, while some were administering examinations to mechanics in Spanish. Rep. Bilbray’s letter asks Secretary LaHood to investigate these matters and require that all aircraft mechanics pass their written, oral and practical examinations in English in order to obtain FAA certification.

In addition to Rep. Bilbray, the letter has been signed by Rep. Sue Myrick (NC), Rep. Trent Franks (AZ), Rep. Marsha Blackburn (TN), Rep. Kenny Marchant (TX), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL), Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (FL), Rep. Ted Poe (TX), Rep. Lamar Smith (TX), Rep. Virginia Foxx (NC), Rep. Steve King (IA), Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (CA), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT), Rep. Howard Coble (NC), Rep Walter Jones (NC), Rep. Paul Broun (GA) and Rep. Todd Akin (MO).

Prior to taking over as Secretary of Education, Ray LaHood was a seven-term Congressman from Illinois, representing the Land of Lincoln from 1995 to 2009. During that time, Rep. LaHood was a strong supporter of official English legislation, co-sponsoring legislation to make English the official language of the United States in every Congress from the 104th Session through the 110th Session. His effort to promote English as the unifying language of all Americans earned Rep. LaHood an “A in English” Award from U.S. English in May 2008.

U.S. English, Inc. is the nation's oldest and largest non-partisan citizens' action group dedicated to preserving the unifying role of the English language in the United States. Founded in 1983 by the late Sen. S.I. Hayakawa of California, U.S. English, Inc. ( ) now has more than 2 million members.