CAPELLE AAN DEN IJSSEL, The Netherlands – Earlier this year AEI, the global body representing Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, requested its members to check as many aircraft logbooks as possible within the airlines they work for in order to investigate if pilots are reporting defects as they occur. As reported in earlier AEI Press Releases, it can now be confirmed the majority of European pilots do not always report defects as and when they occur. They are delayed until it is more convenient for the airlines to carry out repairs.

This selective reporting creates a situation where aircraft regularly take off in an unsafe condition. Great concern is the continuous looking-in-the-opposite-direction behavior by the regulators who, despite being informed about this practice, choose not to act. In October 2007, AEI challenged all European Authorities to carry out a logbook review of the airlines under their control. Not one single European authority indicated that they would be prepared to take up our challenge, ignoring the safety implication.

This shocking lack of response from the regulators makes it clear to us that they do not want to open “Pandora’s box” as it will reveal some unwanted truths about abused regulation. AEI is concerned that European Authorities and Inspectors have allowed themselves to become too close to those airlines they should be regulating.

AEI last year suggested to the European Transport Committee that less than 50% of audit findings uncovered in 2006 had actually been resolved. Unfortunately AEI has strong reasons to believe that this year is no better.

Unfortunately the European regulatory structure to protect European citizens is nothing more than a toothless tiger when called to react. The system takes far too long to correct anomalies, is susceptible to politics, and the controlling organization (the EU) does not have the flexibility to act when actually needed. Furthermore, the backbone of the regulatory structure, accountability, is nonexistent. The recent investigation into the Helios tragedy is an excellent example. The official report is critical of the regulating authorities both national and international, but nothing of any significance has really changed or improved and nobody has yet been held accountable.

Such failings of regulatory oversight leaves the European Traveling public unaware and uncertain if the airlines they use are in fact fulfilling their obligations by operating to the required levels of safety. Such failings also significantly increase the “risks” associated with flying.

At this year’s AEI congress in Malmö, Sweden, AEI will again be highlighting these failings and reminding the Authorities and EU Transport Committee of their responsibilities.

It seems they may have lost sight of the fact that air safety is no accident.