SAS planes “flew without safety checks”

Ten planes operated by Scandinavian airline SAS flew last year, despite the fact that they were supposed to have been grounded for safety reasons. They had not received the necessary maintenance to be deemed airworthy.

Nils Gunnar Billinger, who is the director general of the Swedish Civil Aviation Authority and chairman of OPS-utvalget, a Scandinavia-wide air safety organisation, told Svenska Dagbladet that SAS had been at the margin of safety allowances, and that the company’s licence could be limited or withdrawn if appropriate measures were not taken.

Last November, it emerged that the ten planes had not been serviced according to current directives. Consequently, they did not fulfil flight safety requirements and should not have been used in commercial traffic.

On several occasions, SAS failed to service and inspect the planes’ motors by the deadline, an omission which Billinger said should have resulted in the planes’ being grounded.

In a letter to the managing director of SAS, Jörgen Lindegaard, OPS-utvalget emphasised “the extraordinary seriousness of these incidents”.

According to SAS, the problems were partly due to the fact that SAS SOM, which is responsible for keeping the planes airworthy, sub-contracts the plane maintenance to a subsidiary company.

When the delayed inspections were eventually carried out, no faults were found on the planes.

Both Billinger and Lars Mydland, who deals with public authorities at SAS, said that the failings did not, therefore, affect flight safety.

Nevertheless, Lars Mydland described what had happened as “completely unacceptable”.

“It is serious that we are flying without having carried out the necessary inspections,” he said.

“We know today that the inspections we’re talking about were performed and no faults were found. So they did not have any impact on flight safety. But what’s serious as far as safety is concerned is the fact that we did not keep a check on the documentation.”

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TT/The Local