31st October 2023

Part M/145 organisation resources

Initial Report

All areas of engineering at [Location] are at breaking point. There is simply not enough staff employed to conduct the work to a satisfactory standard. CAMO has recently reported that unsecured access panel reports are increasing exponentially. It is only a matter of time before another [Registration] incident (or worse) occurs.

So many staff are leaving or have already left! To [Alternative Operator] mainly but there are other places recruiting and paying more. Morale is really low and ADDs are through the roof because there’s no spares. Our lineside vending machine has been broken for months. Not enough vans, etc, but we’re told by senior management that everything is fine, that the rate of attrition is no more or less than anywhere else. It’s worse than I’ve ever experienced in my time at [Operator]. We’re managing to keep going because of overtime but I feel sorry for the [Engineering Section A] staff, they’re really struggling, especially the [Aircraft Type] Engineers. The news that [Engineering Section B] are closing and they and the [Terminal A] staff are moving to [Terminal B] just means that more qualified people will be leaving. They’re in [Engineering Section A] because that’s what they prefer to do, apparently 4 of them immediately said they were leaving. And management won’t talk about pay.

CAA Comment

The CAA audit [Operator] regularly in all operational and support areas. Following some feedback from both CHIRP and the MOR system, coupled with our own audits, the CAA is aware that some manpower shortages in certain areas are manifest and this has been raised to the [Operator] management at the highest level. The company is undergoing a recruitment drive with engineering staff entering the organisation at various grades from Mechanic to Licensed Aircraft Engineer. The CAA recently attended a presentation from the production and quality department management about how they are addressing the training and induction of new staff into the organisation. This process has also been presented to the Trade Unions and, as far as we can ascertain, has their support. It is noted that there is a national shortage of qualified and competent aircraft engineering staff, [Operator] is not unique in this issue.

Regarding the issues of tooling and vehicle availability, this has also been raised and discussed with the organisation. The organisation has invested a large amount of time and capital in introducing companywide tooling. This process has now been completed in the base maintenance areas and is scheduled to complete in the operation areas of [Airport] Terminal by second quarter 2023. Again the Management and quality team have engaged with the CAA throughout this process. The availability of vehicles again has been discussed with the new head of operational maintenance and an updated tracking system has been introduced to both track and see the location of vehicles.

On the issue of ADD levels and spares availability, this is discussed between the CAA and the CAMO management team on a weekly basis. The ADD levels are higher than the norm for some particular fleets, and this is indicative of a worldwide spares shortage. The organisation are using various methods to mitigate this problem.

CHIRP Comment

This report is one of several in relation to this operator, some of which are still in progress. A number of these have been passed straight to the CAA to add to their records of safety issues. It should also be appreciated that CHIRP has received a number of similar reports in relation to various other operators with exactly the same post-COVID safety concerns.

Although the remit of CHIRP means that we cannot enter into any discussions about remuneration or industrial relations, manning levels; the number of carried-forward defects; and insufficient ground vehicles are of course safety issues and so this report was passed to the CAA with the reporter’s consent. We note the CAA’s comments about increased oversight of this operator as a result of reporting, and it is vitally important to continue reporting such problems internally so that trends and patterns can not only be identified by the company but also so that the CAA, your employer’s customers and their National Aviation Authorities can become aware of issues when and if they request a review of Internal Reports. Resolution of these issues will be a long-term prospect but at least the company and regulator are aware of the issues and hopefully applying suitable mitigations (the operator has reduced its flying as one mitigation). When submitting an Internal Report, it is important to differentiate between industrial relations, safety and human factors issues. CHIRP is of course ready and able to investigate your Human Factors reports and forward safety concerns to the CAA so that they can either become whistle-blower reports or at least be recorded for trends and statistical purposes.

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