Safety claims defended

Yoni Bashan and Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Regional Express Airlines at Albany Airport.
Camera IconRegional Express Airlines at Albany Airport. Credit: Laurie Benson/Picture: Laurie Benson, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Regional Express Airlines has slammed accusations of workplace bullying and a poor safety culture, describing the anonymous claims as “despicable and cowardly”.

The airline’s fiery defence comes after a 17-page document was reportedly filed by the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority alleging management was intimidating maintenance crews out of reporting defects.

The ALAEA has asked the CASA to revoke Rex’s authority to service its own jets, effectively grounding the fleet, the Sunday Telegraph has reported.

The complaint, filed to CASA on May 27, alleges “serious breaches of safety obligations”, saying: “Coercion, intimidation and bullying of employees has reached a point where employees are reticent to report aircraft defects, including major defects, for fear of recrimination.”

Rex hit back yesterday, claiming the same accusations had been raised by a disgruntled engineer and his union, to both the Fair Work Commission and CASA.

Rex chief operating officer Neville Howell said the airline had been advised by the ALAEA that CASA was behind the anonymous leaks.

“Realising that these baseless accusations are not getting any traction, some are now taking the despicable and cowardly approach of launching anonymous malicious attacks on Rex in the press,” Mr Howell said.

“Rex had already invited senior management of CASA ... to have a full briefing on the matter as well as to discuss the professional failings of the disgruntled engineer.

“We believe that our safety culture, as part of the Safety Management System, is second to none. Rex will not be making any further comments on this matter and we will leave it to the safety authority to judge if our safety culture is lacking in any manner.”

In 2017, a Rex flight from Albury to Sydney nearly ended in catastrophe when a 100kg propeller landed metres from south-west Sydney homes.

An investigation identified a fatigue crack as the cause.

“The apparent discouragement of reporting of maintenance defects has created a circumstance where an unknown number of serious defects may have not been reported and aircraft have operated with a serious and imminent risk to air safety,” the ALAEA complaint alleges.

CASA said it was investigating the claims.

Albany is one of 60 destinations Rex services.

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