Friday, October 30, 2015

Western Isles councilor tells Loganair ‘we need a new fleet of aircraft’



A Western Isles councilor has called on Loganair to invest in a new fleet of aircraft to replace the tired and dated Saab 340.

Cllr Donald Crichton (Loch A Tuath) said: ” In light of the concerns recently raised by the pilots’ union BALPA and increasing incidents whether breakdowns or engines failing involving the Saab 340, it is time Loganair started to invest in a new fleet of aircraft and to make the resources available so that they are serviceable and safe.

“Maybe now Loganair will start listening if the pilots are raising concerns. We were assured by Loganair Chief Executive Stewart Adams at the last Transportation Committee that the Saab 340 was safe and reliable. It is clear from what we have learned this week that his view on that has been called into question with pilots saying the aircraft are ‘going in and out of the hangar with recurring faults that cannot seem to be resolved’.

“The travelling public are fed up with the tired and dated Saab 340 whose poor service record has contributed to the ongoing unacceptable disruption to our air services.”

“ At the Comhairle’s Transportation Committee Mr Adams laid great store in their plan is to invest in refurbishing the interior of the Saab 340 fleet. Perhaps rather than trying to paper over the cracks and giving them a lick of paint Mr Adams should be investing in a new fleet of aircraft and a fully resourced engineering department to ensure our air services are safe and reliable.”

Loganair chief executive Stewart Adams said last week: “First and foremost, let me make it absolutely clear that the safety of our crews and passengers is and always will be our number one priority.

“The final decision on whether or not a flight departs is always in the hands of the pilot, and we know that none of our pilots would ever leave the ground if he or she had any safety concerns.

“We operate around 34,000 services per annum and are subject to regular inspections by the CAA, which is considered to be one of the most stringent aviation authorities in the world.

“We hold an EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) Air Operator Certificate, and fully comply with all the legislation and safety requirements.

“This demands that we must demonstrate we have a fully functional and effective Safety Management System which specifically manages all aspects of our operational safety.

“We are always open to discussing matters of concern with our flight crews, and have responded quickly to both BALPA and the pilot representatives with an offer to meet with them at the earliest opportunity to address their issues in detail.

“Moving on to engineering, there have been issues, with a number of experienced employees leaving or retiring and having to be replaced.

“The process of training their replacements to work with the very specialized aircraft that fly on Loganair routes takes time, but we are now well into this process.

“As an example, 10 of these engineers have just completed a Saab course, and are now incorporated into our maintenance team.

“We will shortly initiate an apprentice scheme aimed at future-proofing us against the worldwide shortage of aviation engineers.

“On reliability, as we have said previously, we are currently undertaking a complete review of our operation to improve both punctuality and reliability on our services.

“This includes the opening of a new Glasgow Airport-based spares hub to house more than double the stock to which we have access. Previously many of these parts had to be sourced overseas with subsequent transportation delays.

“We have also made two senior appointments with the introduction of experienced Directors to our Engineering and Operational divisions.

“In addition, back-up aircraft will be based at both Aberdeen and Glasgow to be used if and when there is a need for them to be deployed to support the daily flying program.

“The investment Loganair is currently undertaking to improve operational performance is significant and we are confident it will have a positive effect on services we have provided for our valued customers for more than half a century.

“These changes will not happen overnight, but I can assure everyone that Loganair is working hard to improve performance.”

Original article can be found here: http://www.islandnewsandadvertiser.co.uk

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