AER Arann has claimed before the High Court it had such concerns about the safety and competency of pilots flying planes chartered to it by a Polish company that it had cancelled its agreement with that company after seven weeks.
In one incident, a pilot with White Eagle Aviation SA, of Woloska Street, Warsaw, Poland, reported to air traffic control that he was making a descent into Galway airport when he was actually some 10 miles away, Martin Hayden, counsel for Aer Arann, told the court yesterday.
In another incident, the manner in which a WEA pilot was operating the aircraft while descending into Cork airport had raised such concerns among Aer Arann personnel that the flight was diverted to Kerry and the passengers bussed from there to Cork, the court heard. Both incidents occurred early last month.
Mr Hayden also said one of two planes provided to it by WEA had to be grounded due to the fact that a fracture in one of the propellers on the plane had been repaired but had not, as required under aviation industry procedures, been notified to Aer Arann.
He said there was “no paper trail” in relation to that repair and it had been brought to Aer Arann’s attention by one of the WEA pilots.
When Aer Arann was informed of the repair, the plane was grounded and passengers boarding the flight at that time had to be transferred to another plane at short notice, causing serious operational difficulties, the airline complained. It said the non-notification of the repair invalidated the certificate of airworthiness of the plane and breached the agreement with WEA.
Aer Arann made the agreement with WEA on January 18 last to charter two aircraft with crew and, between then and the termination of the contract on February 7 last, 28 complaints were made by Aer Arann to WEA about a range of issues, including safety and conduct, the court heard.
The airline also expressed concerns that accounts provided by WEA may not reflect the reality of its present financial position but WEA has denied it is insolvent.
Mr Justice Bryan McMahon yesterday reserved judgment on Mr Hayden’s application to continue an injunction freezing WEA’s assets below €223,465 and grounding a WEA aircraft at Dublin airport pending the hearing of proceedings in which Aer Arann wants WEA to repay it €223,465 paid as a deposit to WEA.
An interim injunction was granted on February 23 last restraining the removal of the aircraft and preventing WEA reducing its assets below €223,465.
Resisting that application, counsel for WEA said it denied any threats to safety from the incidents referred to and was also disputing the jurisdiction of the High Court to hear the proceedings.