CAA questioned over poor maintenance of PIA aircrafts

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The French Aviation authorities have asked Civil Aviation Authority AAA Pakistan to submit report till 7th September on compliance over the shortcomings detected by SAFA inspectors on a PIA aircraft Airbus A310 on 9th August failing which the Airbus operations could face yet another ban in European air space.
The passengers were evacuated in emergency when the safety team detected a fuel leak from one of the engines of Airbus A310 registration APBGO flying from Paris to Lahore.
Mr. Gilbert Guicheney, Director Civil Aviation France, in a letter written on 23rd August 2011, had asked the CAA Pakistan to furnish complete details of rectification of snags found out on Airbus A310 APBGO operating on PK734 Paris – Lahore on 9th August.
The letter says “A detailed evaluation on the adequacy and efficiency of the corrective action plan proposed and implemented by PIA in regard to the identified safety deficiencies. In addition, any other detail that could bring some solid guarantee on the safety level of PIA operations.” It further said that, “In this context, I would like to underline that the following elements appear among the common criteria for consideration of an operating ban for safety reasons at European level listed in the European Regulation EC 2111/2005. The lack of ability and/or willingness of an air carrier to address safety deficiencies as demonstrated by: Lack of transparency or adequate and timely communication on the part of carrier in response to an inquiry by the CAA of a member state regarding the safety aspect of its operation; Inappropriate or insufficient corrective action plan presented in response to an identified serious safety deficiency. The lack of ability and/or willingness of the authorities responsible for the oversight of an air carrier to address safety deficiencies as demonstrated by: Lack of cooperation of with the CAA of a member state by the competent authorities of another state, when concerns about the safety of the operation of a carrier licensed or certified in that state have been raised.”
An aircraft of the national flag carrier that had been detained at the French airport, owing to safety reasons, citing approximately 39 faults including fuel leakage — arrived in the city on Monday. According to sources, PIA’s Airbus A 310 (number AP BGO) was returning home from Milan via Paris on Tuesday and when it landed at Charles de Gualle airport the European aviation inspectors checked it and detected almost 40 snags in it and directed the crew to offload the passengers, and the aircraft was detained there.
The snags pointed out by SAFA inspectors included one panel right of NLG door bent; right fairing (inlet) cracked and bent; one latch on each engine closed by lock wire; fuel leakage on the Engine 2 pylon at the end of refueling; hydraulic leak from steering actuator; fuel leakage from the Engine 1 pylon, both wing root and horizontal stabilizer; on right wing root external one thermal protector tightened up with locking wire; engine No 2 inboard fire seal damaged; temporary repair performed on Engine No 1 fire seal outboard; hydraulic seepage on wheel No 1 brake assembly; the list of snags goes on and on.
One of the snags that the inspectors have pointed out relates to the crew’s lack of efficiency as it said “crew not able to manage a quick and correct emergency evacuation of the aircraft on the fireman request, passengers (95) disembarking with luggage. Evacuation took place 20 minutes after the fireman request,” said the aviation regulator.
Earlier responding to queries, Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson had said that CAA inspectors checked the aircraft regularly and the faults for which the aircraft was held at Paris might have developed after it flew out from here. He also insisted that the CAA put full emphasis on air safety and security.
Sources said that during the past few months PIA’s aircrafts developing faults, lacking safety measures and failing in safety tests at foreign airports have increased. The aviation circle believe that since the regulator lacks proper independent human resource and PIA pilots are on both sides of the table especially Pilots comprising of the management at PIA since Capt Ejaz Haroon, the safety procedures etc have been compromised by CAA officials (PIA Pilots) to favour colleagues.
Besides favouring the colleagues the CAA inspectors have been found violating safety rules themselves as both the operator and regulator were friends. A former director flight standards at CAA and now a director in-charge of flight operations had flown a PIA aircraft from Toronto to Karachi without a 2nd pilot in total disregard of safety rules set by international organisations. A long range flight of more than 10 hours as per international safety rules require 2-pilot operation so that both can do an eight hour duty with proper rest for which special sleeping bunkers are also a must on long range aircraft.
The sources mentioned that the ICAO had mentioned in one of its audit report that CAA acquiring technical HR from operator is in conflict of interest and it should develop its own human resource for better regulatory operations.
As per sources on 2nd Sep Christophe Bruni DGAC Safety Oversight Directorate (DSAC) Of Foreign Airlines Observatory Program Manager had sent a letter to CAA Pak asking it to take corrective measures to address the deficiencies in the plane. Earlier the Flight Standard Directorate of CAA Pakistan had promised corrective measures while requesting on behalf of PIA to have the aircraft released from Paris and flown to Karachi base on minimum fuel to avoid mishap and that too without passengers after the airline failed to have the aircraft fuel leak corrected at Paris airport even after around a week.
The Acting DFS CAA Capt Javed Saeed Chaudhry had written a letter to DG CAA France assuring full implementation of safety standards in light of inspection report by SAFA Inspectors.
The CAA Pakistan had said: Your concern about the proper implementation of the safety standards set forth by ICAO are shared by Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA), and we do appreciate your SAFA Inspections since they enable us to further improve our surveillance program and activities. Your observations arising out of SAFA Ramp Inspection on 19th August, 2011 at LFPG on A – 310 Regn # AP – BGO have been viewed with utmost seriousness and initially following steps have been taken to address them:
a) Pakistan International Airlines Corporation has been directed to further improve its safety program and intimate PCAA for perusal and approval, so that DGAC can be informed accordingly. At our end we have intensified our surveillance program to eliminate the safety discrepancies.
b) The Principal Director (Regulatory) of PCAA Airworthiness Directorate who is responsible for maintenance related oversight and surveillance has been informed about your concerns and our Airworthiness Directorate would soon intimate about enhancement of its surveillance activities so that no discrepancies are observed during future SAFA Inspection.
c) Our evaluation on the adequacy and efficiency of the corrective action plan implemented by Pakistan International Airlines Corporation shall be provided as soon as possible. PCAA does maintain a constant watch on the safety standards of airlines in Pakistan. Your specific observations will however be address specifically.
d) It is assured that all the observations in your SAFA Ramp Inspection Report No. DGAC / F – 2011 – 1811 will be addressed with due seriousness and you will be informed within due time.
e) The A – 310 AP – BGO has been grounded and is under maintenance to remove defects highlighted during inspection. PCAA will keep you posted about the progress of all actions being taken to address safety issues It is pertinent to mention that the CAA Pakistan was supposed to submit compliance report by 7th September 2011.