The Guardian 30 March, 2005

Flying into danger

The travelling public will be in danger if licensed aircraft engineers are directed to stop pre-flight safety checks, according to maintenance staff. Engineers will be ordered to cease inspections if regulations proposed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) are passed by Federal Parliament.

Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) president Michael O’Rance said the public had every cause to be concerned about the impact of the changes.

“We are going to have the bizarre situation where trained engineers will be directed to stand aside and do nothing when a plane is preparing for take-off”, he warned.

The proposed changes to maintenance regulations, being pushed by aviation industry representatives, remove the requirement licensed engineers conduct safety checks on domestic flights before take-off.

Currently, experienced engineers at major airlines check for “bird strike”, slashed tyres, leaks and damage from ground equipment.

Under the changes the only safety check carried out by a Licensed Aircraft Engineer would occur at the start of the day, with pilots carrying out visual checks before other flights.

Pilots are not trained to carry out detailed safety inspections. The Australian and International Pilots Association supports the continuation of pre-flight safety inspections by engineers.

“Where individual carriers have done away with pre-flight inspections and replaced them with pilots in the past, serious risks were missed”, Mr O’Rance said.

The regulations were re-opened for industry alteration as new CASA head honcho Bruce Byron ordered a total review of all regulations.

Negotiations had finished last November. Byron wants to ensure regulations focus on “safety outcomes”, rather than being “too prescriptive”.

The ALAEA today called on the Federal Transport Minister John Anderson to direct CASA to require the continuation of pre-flight safety checks.

“This is one of those moments where the government has the opportunity to step in and prevent a tragedy before it occurs”, Mr O’Rance pointed out,

“If it fails to do so, it will be responsible for the diminution of air safety in Australia.”

For more details go to the JetSafe website — http://www.jetsafe.com.au

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