AEI (Aircraft Engineers International) have written to the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) to place on record our belief that the air travelling public in Europe is exposed to an increasing risk of injury. “Our concern derives from the inconsistent, and in some European countries, inadequate, application by the individual national aviation authorities of safety regulations. The dilution of these regulations by the authorities of those countries presently represents an unacceptable risk of disaster.”
The risk arises out of the regulations governing the release to service of aircraft after they have undergone maintenance. The rules promulgated and approved by EASA call for work done on aircraft to be checked and signed off by a licenced aircraft engineer whose responsibility it is to certify that the aircraft is fit for service. The relevant regulation states “a Certificate of Release to Service (CRS) shall be issued by appropriately authorised (licensed) staff on behalf of the Organisation when it has been verified that all maintenance ordered has been properly carried out”.
AEI has been advised by members that, in certain European countries, EASA approved maintenance organisations have obtained approval for a procedure for the release of aircraft into service which effectively removes the requirement for licensed staff to check the work that has been undertaken by the organisations unlicensed mechanics. These revised procedures simply require the licenced engineer to verify that the unlicensed mechanics have signed off the work that was to be done. The licenced engineers cannot physically inspect and check. In the words of the regulation, there is no verification the work has been properly carried out. This reduces the task of the licensed engineer to a purely administrative “tick box” exercise though they continue to bear the professional, civil and criminal responsibility by virtue of execution of the CRS for anything which may go wrong subsequently as a result of the unsupervised maintenance.
“This procedure does not represent the verification called for by the regulations nor is it the custom and practice of the industry. Instead it represents a departure from that practice and a serious derogation from it” says AEI’s Secretary General Fred Bruggeman. “Such a procedure cuts operator costs by reducing the amount of time spent in maintenance; particularly if the licenced engineer discovers work not performed adequately. This may reduce some delays and save cost but at an unacceptable risk to safety”.
AEI urges national regulators and EASA to enforce the rules to which they have subscribed and return safety to the heart of commercial aviation within Europe.
Aircraft Engineers International (AEI) was formed in 1971 and represents the collective interests of over 40,000 Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers in over 30 countries. The AEI mission is to be the global voice of Licensed Aircraft Engineers by providing representation and support in order to promote the highest levels of aviation safety and maintenance standards worldwide.
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