SAS lambasted for late safety checks

Swedish aviation authorities on Sunday harshly criticized Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) for not carrying out safety checks on its planes on time.

“We are critical,” Gunnar Billinger, the head of the Swedish Civil Aviation Authority, told AFP, adding that SAS’ late safety checks were considered “serious”.

“All airlines… must carry out controls at set times,” he insisted.

Five SAS planes last year and three in 2005 did not undergo the required safety inspections on time, Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter reported.

The aircraft in question were Airbus A330 and A340, which are used for longhaul flights to the United States and to Asia, according to the paper.

In one case last year, a plane flew 225 hours, the equivalent of 30 longhaul flights, without first being found airworthy, Dagens Nyheter reported.

For a plane to be considered airworthy, safety checks must be carried out at specific dates and the aircraft must be found to conform with guidelines set by the country where it was made, which in the case of the Airbus planes is France.

Aircraft that are not certified airworthy are banned from flying. Any flights they carry out are considered illegal, another aviation authority official told Dagens Nyheter.

Billinger meanwhile said SAS “remains a safe company”, pointing out that the Scandinavian airline had itself notified the authorities to the safety lapses.