Fair Work Australia has upheld a Qantas application against the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) after the union instructed its members to continue with transit checks on some Qantas domestic aircraft.
Qantas says that CASA has approved the new ‘maintenance on demand’ regime for domestically operated Boeing 737-800s and Airbus A330s to start from June 13, which it says brings it in line with Virgin Australia and Jetstar. However, the ALAEA issued a notice to members on June 12 advising them to continue to conduct pre-flight maintenance checks on all turnarounds.
But following Qantas’s application to the industrial umpire, Fair Work issued binding orders requiring the union to cease the unprotected industrial action, with effect from 8pm June 14.
“We have invested significantly in new aircraft, which enables a more modern approach to servicing and maintenance,” said Qantas Domestic CEO Lyell Strambi.
“Modern aircraft have sophisticated systems which alert us to mechanical issues meaning engineers don’t need to check the aircraft before every single domestic flight.”
Mr Strambi added that the move, which would see trained pilots now carry out pre-flight inspections rather than an engineer would not compromise safety.
ALAEA federal secretary Steve Purvinas said that the union has major concerns that the maintenance on demand system would result in a lower level of aviation safety, and claims that Qantas failed to seek the required stakeholder commitment as required by its safety management system.
“We advise that your participation would therefore be endorsing an illegal, defective and unsafe procedure,” Purvinas said in the notice to members.
Mr Strambi hit back at the union’s claims over stakeholder commitment. “There is nothing in our internal change management procedures which says unions get a veto over any change the business is implementing, or that we require union approval,” he said.
Qantas says that preflight engineering inspections are continuing on its Boeing 767 fleet and other aircraft that are flown internationally.