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Poor plane maintenance practices are going unchecked and are threatening to lead to “a major incident,” aircraft engineer groups said on September 21.
In the period 2004-2006, there were around 1,700 plane maintenance failings or non-compliance with regulations within Europe, the Association of Licensed Aircraft Engineers (Alae) said in
Examples of bad practices include planes being signed off as fit to fly by maintenance staff members who are not properly qualified, added the Aircraft Engineers International (AEI) group. Also, engineers are concerned that pilots are officially logging details of plane defects only at the end of a particular day’s flying when the aircraft are back at their home bases to avoid problems earlier.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) should be monitoring the situation, but its power is being diluted by the European Union so that it has “a bark but no bite,” AEI secretary-general Fred Bruggeman told the Press Association.
Alae chairman Robert Alway said: “Unless things improve, there could be a major incident. We have a very serious situation, and it all revolves around the implementation of regulations. There is a lack of enforcement power. … If airlines can find a way to save money, they will. That could mean that if pilots find a defect with their plane, they could wait to log it until the end of the day when the aircraft is back at its home base. Pilots could be tempted to act differently when they are away from their home base. There’s a feeling of, ‘Who’s going to stop us?’”
Bruggeman said: “We have heard of staff who have been maintaining aircraft who have received licenses to do so but have not really been properly trained to carry out the work. They have been signing off plans as being fit to fly when they are not properly qualified to do so.”
Both Alway and Bruggeman were speaking at the start of a three-day AEI conference in
Alway said: “We consider it our responsibility to inform the flying public about these safety issues which both industry and governments continue to ignore. The EU has on several occasions made news headlines for imposing bans on non-European airlines considered unsafe to enter into European airspace. The EU has no problem placing these foreign airlines on a blacklist, yet fails completely to manage those European airlines under its control by way of Easa.”