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Aircraft Engineers Warn Of Safety Lapses

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Aircraft maintenance engineers meeting at an annual congress held by Aircraft Engineers International (AEI) this year at Malta were told "a staggering amount of evidence" shows safety lapses by airlines and regulators. The group says an ICAO safety audit results show carriers' average rate of compliance with safety regulations is "around 60 percent." At the same time, according to AEI, safety regulator positions are manned at 24 percent of their target levels. The group says regulators and carriers are pushing for further deregulation, self-regulation and more reliance on "transparent safety reporting" systems. But statistics suggest "the aviation industry is not yet ready" for that responsibility. AEI is not an unbiased observer.

AEI exists to support the interests of its members -- licensed aircraft maintenance engineers. The group is concerned that airlines pushing for self-regulation through open reporting programs "are quite happy to terminate the employment of Licensed Aircraft Engineers raising safety issues." It warns that pressure on engineers "to overlook safety issues has been steadily increasing" as "the priority for airlines shifts from safety to profit." According to AEI, "reports of disquiet among aircraft engineers" highlight "a decline in safety standards among airlines." And the group says "stories are also emerging" of engineers threatened with job loss for reporting "malpractice." The organization advocates stronger protections for engineers who report safety problems.

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