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Pilots & maintenance: a well-oiled machine

Pilots seek clear information about aircraft maintenance 

Aircraft maintenance is a key component of flight safety. This is why a recent warning by aircraft engineers of deteriorating safety standards in aircraft checks raised alarm across the pilot community. Aircraft Engineers International warned that some national authorities allow aircraft to be operated without a physical check performed by a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer. Instead, the aircraft check would be done by an unlicensed mechanic with only the paperwork being verified by a licensed engineer, after the check.

This practice is, of course, cheaper and quicker for operators. But this ‘low-cost' approach it means that a vital step in the process – and hence in the aviation safety chain – is not being carried out by the state-licensed aircraft engineer. His/her role is reduced to ticking boxes. This is a clear step backwards for safety management in Europe and ECA calls upon national authorities to revert back to previous best practices.

Given these worrying developments, it is even more important to keep a good track of the aircraft maintenance information. A recent ECA position paper spells out the details, which pilots should keep in mind when reviewing information about recent aircraft maintenance works.

Pilots seek clear information about aircraft maintenance after warnings of deteriorating standards

The Technical Log is a key tool for this. It must provide the most relevant and up to date information about the status of the aircraft at a glimpse. For example, it must include the current aircraft Certificate of Release to Service (CRS), signed by certifying staff – a licensed aircraft engineer. The Technical Log must also feature all outstanding deferred defects rectifications that affect the operation of the aircraft and all critical maintenance tasks. All this information together with a statement of maintenance due in the nearby future must be available and be checked by the commander before flight. 

There is no doubt that better Information alone cannot make up for any maintenance deficiencies, insufficiently qualified maintenance staff or a lack of oversight. But having it, will assist the crew in the flight and failure management and eventually help to avert incidents or even accidents.