Wednesday September 03, 2014

QF32 sparks outsourcing debate

A photo taken by a passenger onboard QF32 showing damage to the left wing. (AP Photo/Matthew Hewitt)

Qantas management and the union which represents its maintenance engineers, the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) have become involved in a very acrimonious public debate over outsourcing maintenance in the wake of the QF32 engine failure incident yesterday.

In a statement released yesterday evening, ALAEA federal secretary Steve Purvinas alledged safety was a growing concern at Qantas due to the outsourcing of maintenance work.

“In the last 10 years, Qantas has shut down every in-house engine shop in Australia. It is little wonder safety standards are dropping,” Purvinas said. “We know that the dramatic increase in the number of safety incidents involving Qantas jets coincides with an increase in the amount of work that is no longer carried out in-house.”

Continued Purvinas, “Qantas thought they could maintain a growing fleet of A380s with just 24 licensed maintenance engineers worldwide. In reality they should have in excess of 100 engineers to do the work. This would ensure that such risks with safety are never taken.”

In response, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce refuted the claims, saying in a statement released this morning that Purvinas’s statement and public comments in a number of media outlets were aimed at furthering the ALAEA’s industrial agenda.

“It is clearly too soon to speculate on the cause of yesterday’s engine failure,” Joyce said. “Regardless, Steve Purvinas continues to peddle prejudices and generalisations about aircraft maintenance and safety in the knowledge that his claims will more than likely go unchallenged.”

“The A380 involved in the Singapore incident recently underwent its first heavy maintenance check by Lufthansa Technik in Germany,” Joyce continued. “Lufthansa is a leading international airline, a top tier engineering and maintenance provider and an operator of the A380 itself. Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines are overhauled at Rolls-Royce facilities.

“To suggest that Lufthansa and Rolls-Royce do not have the expertise and experience to undertake the highest quality aircraft and checks is ludicrous. All Mr Purvinas is interested in grabbing is a headline, regardless to the damage to the reputation of Qantas and its employees including members of his own union.”

Joyce also confirmed that Qantas met all the requirements of two airworthiness directives (ADs) applying to the Trent 900 engine.