- Created: Friday, 18 December 2015 18:15
- Last Updated: Monday, 21 December 2015 08:40
As 2015 closes we celebrate the holiday season with our family and friends and take time to appreciate what we hold dear. We thank those that have helped us make it through and also use the time to “recharge our batteries” for the coming year. Our work often doesn’t allow for a “normal” life; many of us work rosters with shifts that run through the night or take place on that public holiday that everyone else seems to have off. So whilst 95% of the country will be celebrating Christmas and the New Year a select group will be holding the fort; making sure aircraft are safe for all those who fly. This is what we do, we are proud of it and without us the world of aviation would be a far different, and much more dangerous, place.
The recent release of the official report on the Air Asia crash (flight QZ8501) once again brought the harsh realities of air travel and what can go wrong directly into lounge rooms around the world. Warning signs abounded in this disaster which was, I’m sad to say, avoidable. The pilot and co-pilot have borne the brunt of the responsibility for their “lack” of “out of the ordinary” flying skills. Let’s of course remember they aren’t here to defend themselves. The elephant in the room, in my opinion, was the maintenance defect that had shown up over twenty times over the previous twelve months yet had been consistently ignored and not properly investigated. Reading the official report is an eye opener and obviously there are serious issues that need to be attended to immediately at Air Asia. What struck me, and troubles me, is the similarities I see with occurrences that are now creeping into our own airlines, often created by management with little or no engineering experience. What isn’t clear from the report though is whether Air Asia had appropriately trained and licenced personnel looking at this defect in the various ports the aircraft visited over that twelve month period? Were parts available to carry out troubleshooting and rectification once the defect was diagnosed? Was sufficient time and resources allocated to the job? Was it a tragic example over schedule over safety and time-pressure to get the aircraft out on time? Or was it that properly-skilled personnel weren’t available to diagnose and troubleshoot the defect? The link to the Air Asia report can be found here
LAMEs are the last line of defence in air safety and we are responsible to the people of Australia to make sure every aircraft is safe. Do not be deterred. Do not be distracted. Do it right, the first time. Have a clear conscience that you have done everything in your power to ensure the safety of the aircraft you sign.It seems that manning levels in all airlines in all ports is a big issue currently. We are getting consistent reports from ALAEA Reps around the country that many operators are consciously dropping below their own specified minimum staffing numbers (in some cases an agreed staffing level in an Enterprise Agreement) to see how far the “machine” can run before it breaks. This, of course, exacerbates time pressure and schedule over safety. When you are pushed to rush from one job to another vital points of a job can be missed. Do not let it be you. Slow down; one job at a time, make sure every step is followed and every precaution taken. We do not want an Air Asia catastrophe on our watch. You are not in the wrong if you delay an aircraft because you want to be sure it is 100% safe. That is your job and responsibility.