Fresh union row for Qantas

Qantas' A330s no longer require pre-flight checks by engineers
Qantas' A330s no longer require pre-flight checks by engineers

Qantas became embroiled in yet another union dispute today.

The Australian airline filed an application with Fair Work Australia against the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA), which had instructed its members to conduct maintenance checks that the airline believes are no longer required.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) had already given gave Qantas approval for the implementation of a new system of maintenance for its Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A330 aircraft operating on domestic routes. This new system, which commenced yesterday, removes the need for engineers to conduct pre-flight checks of aircraft.

ALAEA however, had pledged to continue the pre-flight checks, although it later it later withdrew its recommendation following a directive from Fair Work Australia.

“We have invested significantly in new aircraft, which enables a more modern approach to servicing and maintenance. Modern aircraft have sophisticated systems which alert us to mechanical issues meaning engineers don’t need to check the aircraft before every single domestic flight,” said Lyell Strambi, Qantas Domestic’s Chief Executive Officer.

“Safety will always be our first priority. As other airlines have already proven, and the safety regulator permits, we can improve our efficiency by deploying the right people to the right tasks without compromising safety,” he added.

ALAEA however, claims that having engineers conducting pre-flight checks leads to significantly more errors being identified on average prior to each flight.

“Despite the Qantas CEO claiming that the new aircraft are self-reporting, of the 282 in-flight defects less than 5% of the defects could have been detected remotely. With such misinformation circulating it is understandable that the Qantas board may have thought this system safe considering not one of those persons has any aviation operating experience,” said ALAEA’s Federal Secretary, Steve Purvinas.

ALAEA has been in conflict with Qantas since last year, and relations further soured last month when the airline announced plans to consolidate its maintenance operations, leading to the loss of engineering jobs in Melbourne.
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