Published on Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Union bid to ground Qantas 747's

A report in The Daily Telegraph says that thousands of passengers could be left stranded or face major delays after a move by aircraft engineers to ground two Qantas 747s because of safety fears.

The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association will today launch legal action allowing the union to ban the aircraft from flying for up to four weeks.

The association confirmed yesterday that services were expected to be disrupted but said bans were necessary because of the airline's use of cheap overseas maintenance.

The contractor, the Singapore Airlines Engineering Company, came under scrutiny earlier this year when an internal audit found 14 problems, including flight control cables in need of replacement, damaged floor panels, screws scattered across a wing and a plane damaged after a spare part was dropped on it from a crane.

ALAEA secretary Steve Purvinas said he expected the planes to be grounded for three to four weeks while Australian engineers conducted safety checks.

He said any cancellations or delays were the airline's fault.

"Qantas engineers have found that the aircraft have returned from overseas checks in a condition that does not meet Australian airworthiness standards and our members will be grounding the aircraft until they are properly checked," he said.

"We don't intend to disrupt Qantas services but unfortunately this may occur," Mr Purvinas said.

Qantas engineering general manager David Cox said the airline would vigorously dispute the union's application.

"This action does not relate to genuine safety concerns," he said.

Report by The Mole

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