AEI Calls on EU to Improve Air Safety Transparency

By Aircraft Engineers International, PRNE
Tuesday, February 9, 2010

HOOFDDORP, The Netherlands, February 10 - Once again events reported in the United States have clearly highlighted
the inadequacies of the European Union Transport Department's (DG TREN)
oversight of air safety within Europe. A USA Today analysis of Federal
Aviation Authority (FAA) data in the United States has shown that 65,000
commercial passenger flights took place between 2003 and 2009 in an
un-airworthy condition. In addition, the FAA imposed fines against 25 US
airlines totalling US$28.2 million. These figures relate only to those events
that the FAA uncovered and are nothing more than the tip of the iceberg.

The European Commission, however, continues to protect the airlines which
are under its control by consistently refusing to release the relevant safety
data. It is interesting that just as the consultation period has closed on
European Commission proposals to introduce fines for non-compliance with air
safety regulations in order to better align with the United States, there
remains no mention of placing the information in the public domain.

One case cited in the report[1] mentions an aircraft operated by American
Eagle. The aircraft was involved in a major incident, in which flight
controls jammed shortly after takeoff. The FAA criticized American Eagle,
stating that it had "prior knowledge of an aircraft vibration, yet continued
to operate the aircraft until actual rudder control failure." The FAA went on
to say that American Eagle "failed to employ competent personnel to ensure
the highest degree of safety in its operations whilst flying the plane in an
un-airworthy condition on 20 further flights with a vibration. This was
careless and endangered the life or property of another."

The airline was fined US$600,000 (US$30,000 per flight).

In Europe we are aware of one airline having flown an aircraft a further
505 times before the aircraft vibration was finally eliminated. The fine
under FAA rules would have been $15,150,000 yet in Europe, the airline
remains unpunished. AEI has repeatedly warned of the increasing amount of
non-compliance with air safety regulations and supplied evidence to
regulators, but to no avail. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)
remains a paper tiger due to a lack of enforcement powers whilst the European
Commission consistently fails to take effective action against incompetent
National Aviation Authorities.

The sad fact remains that whistleblowers risk losing their jobs whilst
those airlines performing flights with un-airworthy aircraft continue to
cheat both the fare-paying passenger and punishment. The situation is
fundamentally wrong, particularly if the European Commission is genuine in
its claim that safety is paramount.

AEI believes that safety is not paramount as far as the EU is concerned,
but rather that it is the business model that comes above all else. This
situation must change before the next preventable accident occurs and one
method of achieving this is transparency. Like the American system, European
citizens have a right to know how European airlines are really performing.


[1] FAA fines show extent of airline problems USA Today 2 Feb 2010

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