The MSP for the Western Isles has written to airline Loganair to “seek reassurances” following media reports of an internal letter from pilots saying planes have been returned to the line despite being unserviceable.
The British Airline Pilots Association sent an internal letter to Loganair claiming pilots have complained about planes on occasion being “returned to the line despite being unserviceable” and that “in some cases aircraft retain defects that clearly affect flight safety.”
Alasdair Allan MSP has seen parts of the internal letter in the media and commented:
“I am not going to try to offer an opinion about the condition of Loganair’s aircraft, but the company’s pilots clearly have done, and the company now need to respond to that.
“As a twice weekly frequent user of Loganair planes, I have no doubt about the professionalism of pilots and there is no suggestion from this correspondence that planes have actually been flown in an unsatisfactory condition.
“However, pilots have made their views very clear indeed about their concerns about the aircraft, and Loganair now need to move swiftly to reassure the traveling public.”
Loganair chief executive Stewart Adams said:
“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 specialised 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 programme.
“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.”