AEI Secretary General Fred Bruggeman has informed delegates ahead of AEI’s 41st Annual Congress that “regulators are failing to uphold and protect passenger safety”. Evidence provided to congress revealed that more than 90% of aircraft defects only occur during a flight to home base, in other words on a flight to an airport where maintenance can be provided. “Are we missing something?” Mr Bruggeman asked “or is someone not doing their job properly?"
Investigations carried out by AEI globally continue to show no change in this unacceptable behaviour and “it remains a mystery as to why regulators continue to look the other way” says Mr Bruggeman, “This despite accidents that should have served as a wakeup call”. Citing the Turkish Airline disaster Flight 1951 as a prime example of a non-reported defect that resulted in a horrific accident.
According to Mr Purvinas, Federal Secretary of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA), defects occurring on sectors where no maintenance is available are not being documented as legally required due to airline pressure on pilots and engineers to avoid delays. The situation has been made worse because almost all airlines have removed the engineer completely from the turnaround process whilst many airlines have significantly reduced the amount of engineers stationed along the route. With turnaround times often being as short as 25 minutes, airlines do not want to offer pilots the opportunity to discuss defects with engineers for fear of causing a delay. “With airlines struggling to remain in profit, regulators are looking in the other direction keeping their fingers crossed that all will go well” added Mr Purvinas.
The timing and location of the conference is significant with relations between Qantas and its maintenance engineers currently strained as 300 workers find themselves redundant due to outsourcing. Many of the items appearing on the congress agenda will strike a chord with the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineer Association. Topics to be hotly debated include:
1. Increased use of poorly trained staff to supervise maintenance activities.
2. Airlines pressuring regulators to remove Licensed maintenance staff to allow for cheaper and cheaper maintenance without properly trained and qualified staff
3. Increased use of telephone maintenance. (No engineer present at aircraft but on the end of a phone 1000s of miles away)
5. Fatigue management and working time limits (prevention of exhaustion maintenance error and injuries) Predominantly carry out daily maintenance during the (high risk) night time hours.
The Aircraft Engineers International congress takes place in Melbourne, Australia from 20th - 23rd November.
Aircraft Engineers International (AEI) was formed in 1971 and represents the collective interests of over 40,000 Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers. The AEI mission is to be the global voice of Licensed Aircraft Engineers by providing representation and support in order to promote the highest levels of aviation safety and maintenance standards worldwide.