News that lack of training and poor maintenance contributed to the fatal crash of an AirAsia plane last year has spurred Australia’s Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) to demand that the airline be banned from flying in Australia.
“It is clear that this airline is cutting corners to the point that it is having an effect on safety. Failing to act on these findings will put Australian lives at risk,” TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon told Minister for Infrastructure Warren Truss.
Pilots broke rules by disengaging circuit-breakers, thus switching off the autopilot, on AirAsia flight QZ8501 shortly before the doomed plane dived into the Java Sea last December and killed everyone aboard, an investigation found last week. See: AirAsia QZ8501: maintenance and crew error blamed
A report on the crash showed a persistent problem with a crack on the plane’s rudder prompted the pilots to restart the computer system which in turn disabled the autopilot.
“The manual handling resulted in the aircraft entered prolonged stall and upset condition, which was beyond the capability of the crew to recover,” according to the report by Indonesia’s National Transport Safety Committee. The problem with the plane’s rudder had been recorded 23 times in the previous 12 months.
Flight QZ8501, an Airbus A320-200, crashed en route from Surabaya to Singapore on 28 December 2014. The crash killed all 162 passengers and crew.
Following the crash the TWU wrote to the Minister calling for all AirAsia flights to be suspended pending an audit of the airline’s staff training, maintenance of aircraft and industrial relations conditions.
“We now call on the Minister to act on our previous warnings about this airline,” Sheldon said.
“Passengers have the right to know that when they get on a plane operating in Australia that the highest safety and security standards are being applied. Airlines such as AirAsia, which discourage workers from organising, do not have a robust system in place to allow staff to voice concerns without fear of repercussions. Our Government cannot stand over this practice.”
Edited by Peter Needham