Thursday, December 24, 2015

Civil Aviation Authority and Loganair need to 'come clean', says Member of Parliament

The CAA put Loganair "on notice" in June, according to MP Alistair Carmichael.

Emergency services greet the Loganair aircraft on the runway at Sumburgh on Wednesday night.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) put Loganair “on notice” that its maintenance and support systems needed to be improved in June, according to Alistair Carmichael.

The Northern Isles MP was responding to the latest episode in a shambolic year for the troubled airline, which has seen reliability of flights plummet with aircraft plagued by “technical faults”, frequent and sometimes lengthy delays.

On Wednesday, a flight from Aberdeen landed at Sumburgh Airport on one engine, triggering a full emergency, and Carmichael said public confidence in Loganair was now “at an all-time low”.

In October pilots union BALPA wrote to Loganair complaining that aircraft were “being returned to the line despite being unserviceable” and in some cases “aircraft retain defects that clearly affect flight safety”.

BALPA subsequently stressed that its pilots would never fly an unsafe plane, while Loganair stated the safety of its crew and passengers “is and always will be our number one priority”.

“The communities in the Northern Isles have been incredibly patient with Loganair and the CAA this year,” Carmichael said.

 “The reliability of our lifeline air services has fallen off a cliff and the number of incidents causing safety concern has increased markedly.

“We have sought to work with the airline and the regulator, but frankly they have seen this willingness to cooperate and to work responsibly as a licence to take us for fools.

“Public confidence in Loganair is now at an all-time low and they have got to start coming clean with the communities and telling us what is going on here.”

Carmichael continued: “I have it on very good authority that the CAA put Loganair on notice in June of this year about the need to improve their maintenance and support systems.

“In that time the service, if anything, has got worse. The credibility of CAA as a regulator and enforcer of safety standards is now at stake.

“I want the CAA to confirm today that they put Loganair on notice in June. I want them to tell us exactly what they have been doing to monitor Loganair’s performance and why this does not seem to have made any difference.”

He added: “For their part, Loganair have to start being more open about what these incidents involve.  If public confidence in their service is not to follow they reliability off the cliff then they have to start coming up with answers.”

Campaigner Scott Preston said island communities had been "incredibly patient" but despite the efforts of the campaign, politicians and business owners, the CAA had "remained silent".

"People are beyond having lost confidence," he said. "The comments on the Shetland News stories and the campaign page demonstrate a significant worry that must be addressed. We have already said the time for talking is over but it appears that despite the huge numbers of people being involved in those talks, no one was listening anyway."

A Loganair spokesman said the airline did not wish to make any further comment.

A CAA spokesman again did not address the question of whether Loganair had been placed "on notice" to improve its maintenance and safety systems.

He said: "Aviation safety is our top priority and we ensure all UK registered airlines meet strict European safety standards.

"We work closely with Loganair and all other UK airlines on a continual basis, to provide safety oversight and advice. We can confirm that Loganair meets these European safety requirements."


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