Select Committee on Transport Minutes of Evidence

Further supplementary memorandum submitted by the Association of Licensed Aircraft Engineers

  In addition to the letter sent earlier today from J Eagles, ALAE Technical Committee Chairman, the Executive Board of the ALAE would like to be advised as to which safeguards are in place to counter the EASA driven lowering of standards by the systematic weakening of the regulations.

  It is becoming ever more apparent that the ability of the UK CAA Safety Regulation Group to control airworthiness issues in the UK is being hindered by the lack of attendance within the corridors of EASA. Regulations are being carefully selected and watered down to the lowest common denominator to better suit the wishes of our European colleagues.

  ALAE has been carefully following the hearings of the Transport Select Committee in respect to the workings of the UK CM and would just like to amplify the following areas which we believe do require urgent attention.

  The statement was made during the hearing that safety would not be compromised today or tomorrow but possibly in the future. ALAE would agree with this so long as we are only considering the budget and management shortcomings. As long as the operating regulations are not altered in any way, the above shortcomings would of course require a significant amount of time to filter through and eventually would impact safety. However, the point that has not yet been addressed in the hearings is that of the continuous degrading of the regulations and the reluctance shown by EASA to forcefully implement EC regulation 2042. The EASA rules are adopted unopposed by the UK CAA but despite this, it must be made clear that the safety of the flying public is being compromised. This is a state of affairs that is in contradiction with statements made by the government that they will not allow safety to be compromised. It is the opinion of ALAE that action must be taken to stop the degradation in safety now, rather than later. ALAE would prefer not to be proven right with an unfortunate accident involving the UK flying public.

  As an example of what we are referring to. The UK CAA were informed, by ALAE, of significant differences of opinion relating to the training of aircraft engineers. On raising the issue the UK CAA stated and we quote:

    The situation you describe is not acceptable and I will be bringing it to the attention of the JAA and IBA in due course. It is important that the principles of mutual recognition of JAR-147 training are understood and applied by all. Deviation from them will create the inequality to which you refer and also a denial of mutual acceptability".

  A few weeks later after being tipped off that Europe was not interested in amending their application of the rules, we confronted the UK CAA asking for the results of any actions. We were informed that and we quote:

    The CAA is satisfied that it applies the JAR-66 Type Training requirement in the manner it was designed. The issue you raise relates to other States interpretations. The CAA is not responsible for standardising each States compliance with JAR-66".

  This scenario can already be applied to the regulations as a whole and to imply that we are in a transitional period is nonsense. EASA was formed because of exactly these problems. JAA was a club and members were not complying with the rules. EASA has been given an extremely weak legal infrastructure and much of Europe is still ignoring or at best implementing the regulations based on vague interpretations.

  The result of this is that since day one of EASA, many foreign aircraft have been certified as released to service and have then entered UK airspace. Those same aircraft would never have been allowed to depart airfields in the UK. It is imperative that the UK Government is made aware of the fact that Europe is operating parallel systems. It is all made possible by the lack of UK involvement within EASA, a misguided belief that the problems are transitional and a false belief that Euro law is enforceable in its current state.

  By this we refer to the ridiculous situation regarding AMCs (Acceptable Means of Compliance). These AMC's are known as soft regulations. They ensure that any one country can pretty much do as they wish. An excellent example of this is the AMO to rule 145.A.30(d).

    AMC 145.A.30(d) Personnel requirements

    1.  Has sufficient staff means that the organisation employs or contracts such staff of which at least half the staff that perform maintenance in each workshop, hangar or flight line on any shift should be employed to ensure organisational stability. Contract staff, being part time or full time should be made aware that when working for the organisation they are subjected to compliance with the organisation's procedures specified in the maintenance organisation exposition relevant to their duties. For the purpose of this subparagraph, employed means the person is directly employed as an individual by the maintenance organisation approved under Part-145 whereas contracted means the person is employed by another organisation and contracted by that organisation to the maintenance organisation approved under Part-145.

  An operator should ensure that 50% of its workforce are permanent staff to ensure continuity. When pressing EASA about the fact that there are operators using 80% contract staff we were informed to our amazement that this was acceptable. So the reality of the situation is that an operator can use any amount of temporary staff as long as the scale remains somewhere between 0 and 100%. This kind of interpretation is applied by Europe to all elements of EC regulation 2042.

  The consequences of ignoring these problems with EASA will ensure that the UK aviation industry, a world leading industry will cease to exist. The UK will not be able to compete long term in a market that ignores the agreed regulations in order to save money. The lowering of standards will creep into the UK like a cancer as Europe forces its will onto the system; a system which, at its inception, was supposed to be to the highest standard. ALAE warned of ending up with the lowest common denominator and the passing of time has shown that we are well on our way to achieving that sad goal.

21 February 2006

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