PIA Airbus flights face another EU ban

PIA Airbus flights face another EU ban

LAHORE: The French Civil Aviation authorities have asked CAA Pakistan to overcome the shortcomings detected by the inspectors of Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA) on a PIA Airbus A-310 recently, failing which the airbus operations could face yet another ban in European air space, sources in the CAA confided to TheNation on Thursday.The passengers were evacuated in emergency when the safety team detected a fuel leak from one of the engines of Airbus A-310 (registration AP-BGO) flying from Paris to Lahore.Sources disclosed that Gilbert Guicheney, Director Civil Aviation France, in a letter written on August 23, 2011, had asked the CAA Pakistan to furnish complete details of compliance/rectification of snags found out on Airbus A-310 operating on PK-734 Paris-Lahore on August 9.

The letter asks for: “A detailed evaluation on the adequacy and efficiency of the corrective action plan proposed and implemented by the 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.” An aircraft of the national flag carrier had been detained at a French airport owing to safety reasons citing some 39 snags including fuel leakage.Sources said, PIA’s Airbus A-310 (number AP-BGO) was returning home from Milan via Paris on Tuesday. When it landed at Charles de Gualle Airport, the European aviation inspectors, while checking, 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 stabiliser; 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 and passengers (95) disembarking with luggage. Evacuation took place 20 minutes after the fireman’s 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 during past few months, the PIA`s aircraft were increasingly developing faults or lacking safety measures apart from failing to clear the safety tests at foreign airports. The aviation circles believe that due to lack of proper independent human resources by the regulator, the safety procedures and other requirements had been compromised by CAA officials to favour the colleagues.

Besides favoring the colleagues, the CAA inspectors have been found violating safety rules themselves as both the operator and the regulator were buddies. 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 letter says that Pakistan International Airlines Corporation has been directed to further improve its safety programme and intimate PCAA for perusal and approval, so that DGAC can be informed accordingly. “At our end we have intensified our surveillance programme to eliminate the safety discrepancies,” it says.

The letter further says, “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.”

When contacted PIA spokesman Tajwar said, “Yes it happened and PIA A-310 plane was inspected by SAFA inspectors at Paris airport who detected a good number of snags in the plane but PIA is no more operating Airbus for European destinations, rather B-777 planes have replaced them for said sector”. – Nation