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An “unacceptable risk of disaster” exists as European regulators condone inconsistent and inadequate application of regulations, the body representing aircraft engineers has warned.
Aircraft Engineers International has written to the European Aviation Safety Agency saying that passengers in Europe are being exposed to an increasing risk of injury.
The Amsterdam-based body which represents more than 40,000 aircraft maintenance engineers in over 30 countries, says the risk arises out of regulations governing the release to service of aircraft after they have undergone maintenance.
AEI said: "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."
EASA rules 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.
But AEI claims that EASA approved maintenance organisations in certain European countries 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 carried out by unlicensed mechanics.
These revised procedures simply require the licenced engineer to verify that the unlicensed mechanics have signed off the work.
AEI secretary general, Fred Bruggeman, said: “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.
“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 is urging national regulators and EASA to enforce the rules to which they have subscribed and “return safety to the heart of commercial aviation within Europe”.
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