Aircraft Safety

Transport written question – answered on 11th February 2004.

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Photo of Bob Spink Bob Spink Conservative, Castle Point

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport

(1) what special safety inspections are made, and with what regularity, on the aircraft of airlines that are allowed to use UK airports but are banned on safety grounds from using some other European airports;

(2) what his policy is on data sharing on aircraft safety with other European countries; and what his policy is on the proposed EU Directive on this.

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

The Government have consistently supported data sharing arrangements established under the European Civil Aviation Conference's Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA) programme. The reports of all inspections of foreign aircraft carried out under the programme are entered on a central database and may be accessed by all participating states. We also support the proposed EC Directive on the safety of third-country aircraft using Community airports, which is based on the SAFA programme.

My answer to John Thurso on 12 January 2004, Hansard, column 546W, explains why the SAFA database cannot be used to determine whether an airline currently has restrictions on its operations to an ECAC State. The database only contains details of aircraft inspections and immediate corrective action. In most cases such action relates to the specific aircraft inspected and the airline would be free to operate flights using other aircraft. Moreover many restrictions last for only a few days while the issue identified is addressed.

The record of inspections on an airline's aircraft by other states is taken into account in determining our own programme of inspections.

The SAFA programme is under constant review and we are working with our European colleagues to extend and refine the information on the database.

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