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“Worrying downtrend“ in European aviation maintenance

14th September 2007 Print
Aircraft maintenance experts from around the world are holding a conference in September to discuss what they describe as “a worrying downtrend in standards” in aircraft maintenance across Europe.

They claim that frequent maintenance safety lapses are being ignored by both national governments and airline bosses.

The experts are affiliates of Aircraft Engineers International (AEI) which is holding a three day conference in London from September 20 – 23.

Top of their agenda is concern at what the experts perceive to be a downtrend in maintenance standards caused by harmonisation of safety regulations – which leads to a lowering of standards - and commercial pressure to keep aircraft flying across Europe.
AEI say they have discovered cases of airline pilots illegally performing emergency maintenance operations on aircraft and maintenance work being carried out by staff not fully qualified.

In one 12 month period there were more than 1000 maintenance failings or non adherence/compliance to the regulations by the various European Aviation Authorities and the vast majority remain uncorrected.

Robert Alway, Chairman of the Association of Licensed Aircraft Engineers (ALAE) the UK based hosting affiliate said: “ We consider it our responsibility to inform the flying public about these safety issues which both industry and governments continue to ignore.

“We are one of the few aviation organisation involved not only with the evolvement of regulations but also witness to the results first hand on the shop floor.

“This leaves us well placed to determine the effect these changes have on all European Airlines. Feedback has unfortunately lead AEI to come to the preliminary conclusion that at present there is a worrying downward trend as far as standards are concerned.

“As a result AEI and its affiliates will be increasing their efforts to uncover signs of degradation in Aviation Maintenance standards to ensure the regulatory bodies take appropriate action to protect the both fare paying passengers and those beneath the flight path.”

Alway added: “We need to engage the assistance of the flying public and politicians to increase our chance of countering this trend.

“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 the “Black List” yet fails completely to manage those European airlines under its control by way of EASA.”