CAPELLE AAN DEN IJSSEL, The Netherlands (September 26, 2008) – AEI (Aircraft Engineers International) are encouraged by the more positive approach witnessed from some National Authorities to its recent safety warnings. AEI has repeatedly voiced its concerns that many aircraft system defects (up to 90%) were not recorded when they occur but rather when it was “commercially convenient” for airlines, thereby significantly increasing the risk faced by passengers.
At AEI’s Annual Congress in Malmo (September 18-20) EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) confirmed that the SAFA (Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft) program had also uncovered evidence of defects not being entered as they occur. “Although there is a large difference in the figures presented by SAFA and AEI, we are moving in a more positive direction,” said AEI’s general secretary Fred Bruggeman. Commenting on the large difference between the statistics (SAFA’s rate being considerably lower than AEI’s 90%) Mr. Bruggeman said, “One shouldn’t forget that SAFA perform snapshot inspections of aircraft often between tight flight schedules; AEI is not under such constraints and as such are able to continuously monitor the situation.”
AEI have repeatedly raised the issue the past 12 months and until now were extremely disappointed with the response, or lack of it, from many of Europe’s aviation authorities.
“It is disappointing it has taken over a year for the problem to be recognized, and during congress it became evident this was also a global problem and not just limited to Europe,” said Mr. Bruggeman. “Therefore, we believe that passengers will support our call for the regulator to become more pro-active in protecting their interests by insisting upon the highest possible standards of safety at all times.”
Unfortunately, during congress both Alitalia and Olympic Airways fell victim to the current crisis facing the aviation community. Alitalia are close to ceasing operations, while Olympic Airways announced job losses as it prepared to be split into 3 privatized companies in order to be sold off for maximum profit. The circumstances surrounding these and other endangered airlines are a cause of great concern for AEI as aircraft maintenance budgets have always been considered a soft target and the continuous cost-cutting will eventually compromise safety.
Furthermore, industry continues to highlight its short-sighted approach to maintenance by allowing many to lose their jobs in spite of there being an acknowledged severe shortage of engineers. Potentially many of these highly-qualified engineers will move on into other industries seeking better career prospects and stability, all of which places an even larger burden on the remaining few. AEI calls on the European Union to do more to protect innocent hard-working individuals rather than stand on the sidelines as they are victimized and abused under the banner of free markets.
As the 36th Annual Congress concluded, AEI re-affirmed its commitment to enhancing aviation safety by encouraging affiliates to work in partnership with their regulator while continuing to maintain aircraft to the highest safety standards.