Qantas was unable to confirm or deny credible information this morning that it would soon send another of its jets to the same Singapore Airlines Engineering Company that ripped it off last year with dodgy repairs.

The airline has not responded to the following questions which might be of interest to those flying on its services.

  1. Did Qantas get its money back for work that was falsely shown as having been done by the Singapore company in the course of its own audit?
  2. What persuaded Qantas that it wasn’t the victim of any wilful or systematic fraud in relation to the serious shortcomings in the maintenance and repair work done to the 747-400?
  3. Why is it consistent with the claimed safety standards of Qantas to continue to send jets to Singapore for maintenance, repair or overhaul to a firm that failed a Qantas audit?
  4. Why did Qantas’ head of engineering David Cox tell the Today Tonight program yesterday that he was calling the firm that night to pursue these issues when he previously claimed to be pursuing them as far back as March?

Cox is right in the cross hairs for his television performance, especially his “nobody is perfect” response to improperly stapled electrical cabling.

Qantas is perfect. It has never even been fined by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority for any breach of the rules whatsoever in its entire history.

In the US Qantas would have been fined, and named, by the Federal Aviation Authority, for any errors in the electrical systems on the jets it flies. Even the wrong fuse in a cabin light will cost a carrier hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties.

The alarm bells went off in pilot ranks too. The president of the Australian and International Pilots Association, Captain Ian Woods, says pilots rely on the truthfulness of the paperwork that tells them a jet has been maintained.

This episode tarnishes that confidence. If Qantas can let a jet fly around for months with substandard wiring, how can pilots be confident that in an emergency all of the alternative systems they will call on will in fact be available?

However, this morning Captain Woods said he can “vouch for the seriousness with which Qantas is responding to the situation.”

Last night he met with Qantas executives responsible for the airline’s air operator certificate or AOC. Woods said he “left that meeting knowing that these disclosures are being treated with determined action to ensure such problems do not continue into the future.”

Woods thinks Qantas has no option at the moment but to continue to place some maintenance work abroad but says that there will be unprecedented supervision of work carried out overseas in future.

“I’m very reassured by the company response,” he said. “This whole episode has had a profound effect for the good in Qantas.”

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.