Transparency of Australian/European Aviation Safety Oversight Called Into Question

By Aei Aircraft Engineers International, PRNE
Monday, July 26, 2010

HOOFDDORP, The Netherlands, July 27, 2010 - Aircraft Engineers International (AEI) welcomes the news that
the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) has been
successful in its three year legal battle against the Australian Civil
Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), in order to gain access to safety related
audit reports of CASA approved foreign maintenance bases.

The legal challenge arose after poor quality maintenance was
discovered on Qantas aircraft after being maintained at approved facilities
in Singapore and Hong Kong. One Qantas aircraft allegedly departed an
approved foreign maintenance organisation with over 450 open defects. The
maintenance facilities have a stamp of approval from the Australian Aviation
Authority (CASA) as well as additional approvals from various aviation
authorities around the world.

Due to the seriousness of the safety lapses and concern at how
these companies obtained a Government seal of approval, the ALAEA using the
freedom of information act requested all CASA audit reports on the companies
concerned. The response from the Australian national aviation authority to
this and other similar incidents was to spend over 300,000 Australian tax
payer's dollars trying to prevent the release of information into the public

The implications of this case are far reaching and will
eventually take on a global perspective. The evidence produced so far clearly
highlights a standard of work well below that which is acceptable, yet the
organisations concerned continue to operate under multiple approvals obtained
from various national aviation authorities around the world. In fact, there
is a link to EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) who have issued European
stamps of approval to the companies in question.

AEI have been campaigning for some time on the issue of
European aviation safety and transparency. European regulators supported by
the EU continue to maintain that audit information is commercially sensitive
and could potentially be damaging to an airline operator. Yet whilst this
information remains withheld more and more, European airlines make use of
cheaper, EASA approved foreign based maintenance facilities.

Of-course in principal this is perfectly acceptable as long as
the facilities do in fact come up to and align with European standards. AEI
General Secretary Fred Bruggeman said that "the outsourcing of maintenance to
cheaper overseas facilities can be positive in terms of competition and will
undoubtedly force airline management to look for innovative ways to improve
efficiency and reduce costs. However, a level playing field must prevail as
far as safety standards are concerned in order to protect the public. Double
or false standards cannot be tolerated."

ALAEA meanwhile have for some time suspected that there is
cooperation between CASA and Qantas that goes way beyond an
operator/regulator relationship. The real answer may well be close to the
suspicions raised by ALAEA Federal Secretary Steve Purvinas. He said "I
suspect that CASA are under industry pressure to give cheaper overseas
maintenance facilities a clean bill of health because they are a cheaper
alternative to Australian facilities."

This is in fact the real issue here. How have we allowed
government agencies, financed by tax payer's money to fail in their primary
task of protecting the public. The remit of any aviation authority or agency
is safety first, the remit does not include helping airlines achieve greater
profits at the expense of SAFETY.

AEI have requested copies of all audit documentation relating to the EASA
approval of the companies involved. The Today Tonight expose (Flying Blind)
can be viewed on the AEI website.

For more information contact AEI media: pr at or
sg at, Tel: +31-655-930-175

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