Serious Maintenance concerns

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By TESTCustomwebLP TESTCustomwebLP April 29, 2015 17:15

Serious Maintenance concerns

AEI (Aircraft Engineers International) have written to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to place on record their view that the travelling public in Europe is exposed to an increasing risk of injury. “Our concern derives from the inconsistent, and in some European countries, inadequate, application by the individual national aviation authorities of safety regulations. The dilution of these regulations by the authorities of those countries presently represents an unacceptable risk of disaster.”

The risk arises out of the regulations governing the release into service of aircraft after they have undergone maintenance.  The rules promulgated and approved by EASA call for work done on aircraft to be checked and signed off by a licenced aircraft engineer whose responsibility it is to certify that the aircraft is fit for service.  The relevant regulation states “a Certificate of Release to Service (CRS) shall be issued by appropriately authorised (licensed) staff on behalf of the Organisation when it has been verified that all maintenance ordered has been properly carried out”.

AEI has been advised by members that, in certain European countries, EASA approved maintenance organisations have obtained approval for a procedure for the release of aircraft into service which effectively removes the requirement for licensed staff to check the work that has been undertaken by the organisations unlicensed mechanics.  These revised procedures simply require the licenced engineer to verify that the unlicensed mechanics have signed off the work that was to be done.  The licenced engineers cannot physically inspect and check. In the words of the regulation, there is no verification the work has been properly carried out. This reduces the task of the licensed engineer to a purely administrative “tick box” exercise though they continue to bear the professional, civil and criminal responsibility by virtue of execution of the CRS for anything which may go wrong subsequently as a result of the unsupervised maintenance.

These procedures cuts operator costs by reducing the amount of time spent in maintenance; particularly if the licenced engineer discovers work not performed adequately.

AEI has urged national regulators and EASA to enforce the rules to which they have subscribed.

But it is not just within Europe that there are problems. At the very same time as the AEI release was received Airline Economicswas sifting through detailed documents of Thai Airways maintenance records for one long haul aircraft that contain numerous maintenance discrepancies,  which have been reported to the ICAO, EASA, FAA and other selected civil aviation authorities over the past 24 hours.

As Thai authorities try to prevent the country’s operators being blacklisted around the world and they put out releases stating that matters are in hand and not as serious as some may think, I argue that there is a serious problem that needs to be talked about openly. The recent outcome of ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation)’s USOAP (Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme) on Thai Department of Civil Aviation did not have the information at time of audit that we now have sight of today until yesterday.

ICAO raised the issue of a shortage of qualified inspectors at the Thai Department of Civil Aviation along with other issues they found through USOAP on Thai Department of Civil Aviation. This shortage may well have contributed to Thai Airways maintenance failures, which include parts serial number discrepancies and a myriad of other failures. Airline Economics understands that legal action is now being taken against Thai Airways International by at least one company following the purchase of an aircraft a few years ago.

The number of airlines registered in Thailand has gone up significantly in recent years but Thai Department of Civil Aviation does not have sufficient number of inspectors to cover such large number of air operators in Thailand and aircraft operated by them. They have now been caught out – But today we should really be asking, what is Europe’s excuse?

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By TESTCustomwebLP TESTCustomwebLP April 29, 2015 17:15