CASA says questions of Rex not fully answered

The saga of Regional Express (Rex), the "disgruntled engineer" a leaked report about maintenance operations and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) continues with news of a video that purports to show rust on a propeller shaft.

On Thursday, July 4, CASA sent staff to Rex's heavy maintenance base in Wagga Wagga, to survey five random engineers.

Rex's deputy chairman John Sharp said that the disgruntled engineer was taken to task for several instances of professional negligence and misconduct.

"In retaliation, he has made the unfounded claim that engineers are being intimidated out of reporting defects. CASA's visit is to find out directly from our engineers if there is any merit to these claims," Mr Sharp said.

CASA is continuing to investigate allegations about maintenance practices at Rex and on Thursday the organisation said it conducted a full day audit at the main Rex maintenance base, which is in Wagga.

A CASA spokesman said this audit included inspections of hangars and aircraft, observing repair work, interviewing engineers and reviewing maintenance documentation.

"This audit is part of CASA's thorough investigation of Rex maintenance practices. CASA will be investigating the video showing possible corrosion on a Rex aircraft propeller as part of the overall review of Rex maintenance," the CASA spokesman said.

"CASA is working as quickly as possible to finalise these matters but at this stage the investigation is ongoing. CASA will be seeking further information from Rex as questions remain not fully answered," he added.

"At this point CASA has not found any immediate safety issues at Rex. If immediate safety issues are found CASA will take timely and appropriate action. CASA can assure air travellers it will not finalise the investigation until questions about safety at Rex are fully answered and any remedial actions, if required, are put into place by Rex.

The Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers' Association (ALAEA)has confirmed that a 33 page letter of complaint (currently being referred to a "report") was sent to CASA on May 27.

"It related to our observations and concerns about what we considered to be the safety culture and non-compliance of Rex with their mandatory safety procedures in relation to maintenance related investigations. The letter in part identifies eight examples we consider to be serious non-compliance which involves several former and current employees over several years," the organisation said.

Steve Re from the ALAEA said he had looked at the video purporting to show corrosion.

"In that video, in my view, you can see rust, it looks like corrosion. It doesn't mean the aircraft has to come out of service, it means it needs attention," Mr Re said.

Mr Sharp said that Rex, as the largest regional operator in Australia, was always closely audited by CASA and had received five CASA audits since February 2018. He said that at its final Surveillance Report of October 2018 CASA said Rex was operating in an effective manner.