Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > PPRuNe Worldwide > Australia, New Zealand & the Pacific
Reload this Page >

Rumour: Sunstate Engineers suspended over aircraft sabotage?

Australia, New Zealand & the Pacific Airline and RPT Rumours & News in Australia, enZed and the Pacific

Rumour: Sunstate Engineers suspended over aircraft sabotage?

Old 6th Nov 2012, 16:35
  #601 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 8,213

Pickering is right. The labor party and the current Government are rancid from top to bottom.

The Pickering Post

Last edited by Sunfish; 6th Nov 2012 at 17:52.
Sunfish is online now  
Old 6th Nov 2012, 16:45
  #602 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Sydney
Posts: 137
Don't all jump down my neck here, a couple of simple questions.

Were the doors defective, that is, what specified limit in an "approved document" was not able to be met?

My very raw understanding, and I am very happy to be corrected, is that there were no breaches of the Supplemental Type Design holder's requirements. That is not to say that the door lock wasn't ineffective, but that the design criteria of the door was met and the aircraft was in fact serviceable to the design standards.

Whether the door lock was effective to DOTARS requirements is very different to whether the aircraft is airworthy to Type Design requirements.

Managers Perspective is offline  
Old 6th Nov 2012, 19:13
  #603 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 1,135
MP ... I think the door issue is now irrelevant.

The real issue is the conflict of laws.
AND it's not just confined to Aviation.

Ergo ... if a surgeon thinks that an operation would be too dangerous to undertake on a particular patient, BUT the Hospital directed him to do it ... where does he stand if the patient dies during the operation?

OR, where does he stand if he refuses to operate? Out of a job?

Last edited by peuce; 6th Nov 2012 at 19:15.
peuce is offline  
Old 6th Nov 2012, 19:23
  #604 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Bexley
Posts: 1,789
MP thnx for some sensible questions/comments.

The STC (supplemental type certificate) says that the door must comply with its design documents including the section on requirements for continued airworthiness. In that approved document it states that -

"The cockpit and deadbolt assembly must function properly at all times in order to maintain a secure flight deck"

In his ruling the judge completely ignored these documents that formed part of the case and only addressed the Industrial side of things. The evidence shows that this part fitted to the aircraft was no longer in a condition to allow continued airworthiness (not airworthy to Type design standards) because it could no longer maintain a secure flight deck.

It should also be known that the managers who signed these aircraft out also changed the locks on each door first. If there was no defect they would not have done a thing. If it was not airworthiness they would have deferred.

Regardless of whether the defect was airworthness or not, all Engineers are obligated to report defects under CASA Regs. Airworthiness defects just need to be addressed differently.
ALAEA Fed Sec is offline  
Old 6th Nov 2012, 20:56
  #605 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Australia
Posts: 453
Those who are following the Norfolk ditching saga will know that it has been suggested that the US FAA may be taking an interest in those procedings with the possibility of a downgraded rating of Australia now being discussed in mainstream press.
I wonder how the FAA will view this decision?

Last edited by Wunwing; 6th Nov 2012 at 23:53.
Wunwing is offline  
Old 6th Nov 2012, 21:04
  #606 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Bexley
Posts: 1,789
Maybe I should contact the FAA.
ALAEA Fed Sec is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2012, 00:07
  #607 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Australia
Posts: 453
That might at least get the Ministers attention. Nothing else seems to.
Wunwing is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2012, 00:35
  #608 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Australia
Age: 61
Posts: 82
FWA decission

it would appear that the managers percieved truth far out weighs the actual truth in the eyes of the wig wearing toffs.
Are we in the aviation industry subject to different laws to everyone else, For crying out load the building trades can shut down a site due to no cold drinks available. yet in aviation a major safety issue is basically ignored except the part not seen by the beeks - every aircraft has had a major modification carried out after the fact to fix this issue of the doors - wtf

Sad day really the regulatory body has let the team down, do we now have to think twice about defecting an aircraft due schedule pressure and face the wrath of the company in court where the the vastly experienced manager (not licensed on type) but an expert due to the position held can make the serviceability statement. Whilst sitting in his/her airconditioned office feet firmly planted on the ground.

Just my thoughts.
Bigdog01 is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2012, 00:45
  #609 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 64
The court judgement has been posted. Few important notes:
  • Executing the task under the law was not a protected workplace right as the CA laws are between the employee and the aircraft not the employee and employer.
  • The judge considered if the minister made any indications of an intention to cover this area but it could not be found in any readings to parliament or earlier workplace laws.
  • However the judge did not like the case hanging on a single technical aspect of law meaning the case was not dismissed at this stage. Instead they also considered adverse action under the general protections considering the nexus of the actions taken.
  • Considering this the judge factored in the actions of the parties, the CA laws and the impact on the aircraft.

Bellow is the main issues the judge brought up:

  1. It is not certain on the evidence as to precisely when after the start of September 2010 knowledge of the cockpit door issue came to the knowledge of each of the LAME employees. What is certain is that Mr Pengelly was aware of it by 16 October 2010 when he came to complete the QL3 describing this phenomenon. He said that he discovered it by leaning on the toilet wall of the aircraft and noticing that the cockpit door opened. By then Captain Schryver and later Captain Reitano had each submitted an SOR in respect of this same phenomenon and, as I have observed, remedial action was in train. In these circumstances, it is a most unlikely coincidence that Mr Pengelly chanced to discover this same phenomenon on 16 October 2010. Also to be taken into account in weighing up whether Mr Pengelly discovered the phenomenon by chance is the evidence, including that of Mr Pengelly himself, that licensed aircraft maintenance engineers routinely talk amongst themselves in the workplace about topical maintenance issues. I consider it inherently likely that skilled tradesmen rostered together would do this. When he was asked on 20 October 2010 by a Mr Rose about why the cockpit door locks had been inspected Mr Kuhanez mentioned that pilots had raised the issue and that Sunstate had not done anything about it. There was also evidence that licensed aircraft maintenance engineers rostered on a particular shift caught a bus from the maintenance facility together at the end of a shift. It was Mr Posavac who “closed off” on 17 October 2010 the QL3 prepared by Mr Pengelly in respect of the cockpit door issue on 16 October. Moreover and tellingly, when Mr Posavac “closed off” this particular QL3 he did so by fitting shims to the cockpit door striker plate in accordance with the AutoAvia designed Engineering Order requirements. In other words, Mr Posavac must well have known no later than 17 October 2010 not only of the phenomenon as to how the cockpit door might be opened but also that there was already in place a QantasLink initiated, fully approved modification to address this issue. Mr Kuhanez reported a like issue on 18 October 2010. He did this after he was told by Mr Posavac that he had repaired just such an issue the previous day.
  2. On 17 October Messrs Pengelly and Fuller were rostered on and worked the day shift while Messrs Kuhanez, Posavac and Etherton were rostered on and worked the evening shift (which finished at midnight). In his initial affidavit, Mr Fuller stated that Mr Pengelly had demonstrated to him how the locked cockpit door on the Dash 8 could be opened by flexing the adjacent (toilet) wall. That Mr Pengelly had such knowledge by then accords with his having completed the QL3 on that subject the previous day. Mr Fuller also stated in his initial affidavit that Mr Pengelly had also demonstrated to him how the cockpit door lock could be opened by pushing a key into the lock and levering it open. In his later affidavit filed in June 2011 in this proceeding Mr Fuller stated that Mr Pengelly only came to show him how to open the lock in this way on 20 or 21 October, ie after the night of 19 October 2010. He retracted this in his oral evidence. Mr Fuller’s first and more contemporaneous account is inherently the more likely.
  3. Of the LAME employees, it is more likely than not that Mr Pengelly, Mr Posavac, Mr Kuhanez and Mr Fuller were each aware of the cockpit door phenomenon prior to 19 October 2010. They did not just chance upon the issue on the evening of 19 October 2010 and thereby, so it was submitted on behalf of the ALAEA, then and there become duty bound to report the same as a defect on a QL3. Further, notwithstanding that there was an obvious widespread knowledge about the cockpit door issue and the cockpit door lock issue by 18 October 2010 there had been no concerted action amongst the LAME employees or any of them to address the same with their supervisors on their initiative by that time. This was so notwithstanding, for example, Mr Fuller’s statement that a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer in possession of such knowledge and not acting on it would be in breach of his duty as a member of that trade.
So the judge does not like that they were sitting on the issue. If it was a concern they should have exercised it straight away. By not acting Logan considered this a breach in itself.

  1. A notable feature of Mr Etherton’s oral evidence was that his demonstration of how he did this differed from his earlier indication as to the entry point Mr Posavac had showed him. Mr Etherton also stated that he found he was able to open the cockpit door by pressing against the toilet door frame. In the course of the QantasLink investigation which followed 19 October 2010 events Mr Etherton stated that, once these issues were discovered, discussion took place amongst some of the licensed maintenance engineers on that shift about their being insufficient time left during the shift to fit shims so as to address the toilet door flexing. On this version of events, this indicates an awareness then of the existence of an approved resolution method as specified in the Engineering Order. Yet when asked in evidence as to what research, if any, was undertaken in relation to the QL3 which he completed that evening he stated that, “time constraints prevented me doing any research into the issue”. This was, to say the least, odd as the very man who asked him to go to aircraft VH-TQM and whom he said had conducted a demonstration there, Mr Posavac was the same man who had, as I have already noted, earlier adopted that approved method to close off an earlier QL3 in respect of aircraft VH-QOD on 17 October 2010. Further, in his first affidavit, Mr Etherton stated that he had assisted Mr Posavac in that task on 17 October 2010. All in all, I did not find Mr Etherton a reliable historian. What is certain, based on the contemporaneous documentation, is that he did complete a QL3 on the evening of 19 October 2010. Further, it is more likely than not that, in so doing, he was well aware before 19 October of the existence not only of a door flexing issue but also that how to resolve the same had already been settled. I also doubt that the potential for the door lock to be opened by insertion and manipulation was a revelation to him that evening.
  2. As to Mr Baldock, the evidence that he gave in his first affidavit was that, in the course of the evening shift on 19 October 2010, Messrs Pengelly and Kuhanez had had a discussion with him during which Mr Pengelly told him that he had by chance discovered a problem with the Dash 8 cockpit door when he accidently lent against the toilet door wall and found that the cockpit door popped open. Mr Baldock stated that he considered this to be a serious problem because the cockpit door area of the QL3 was supposed to be able to resist forcible entry as well as gunfire and shrapnel. According to him, he, Mr Pengelly and Mr Kuhanez agreed together to look out for this problem on other Dash 8 aircraft. It was for this reason, so he stated, that, during an internal inspection of aircraft VH-QOF, he decided to examine the cockpit door and its lock. It is noteworthy, as to the lock, that Mr Baldock’s account as to what he had been told of the problem by Mr Pengelly did not include his being given any detail as to how the lock itself might be manipulated. Rather, he said that when testing the cockpit door for vulnerability to opening by the flexing of the toilet wall he noticed that the internal of the lock mechanism was visible and that this prompted him to investigate it further.
  3. In contrast, in Mr Baldock’s second affidavit and in the course of his oral evidence he stated that he was informed by Mr Kuhanez that he (Kuhanez) had the previous evening (18 October 2010) found a defect with the door lock on VH-QOD. Yet in his first affidavit and for that matter in his response to a question in the course of the post-event QantasLink investigation, he made no reference to Mr Kuhanez as the source of his information as to vulnerability in the lock itself. In his second affidavit Mr Baldock stated that he only filled out the QL3 that evening after already having reported what he discovered to the shift supervisor Mr Blanch who told him to report the defects he had seen. He also stated that, before so doing, he had discussed the defects with Mr Pengelly. The differences in the accounts which he gave at various times made me regard Mr Baldock as an unreliable historian.
  4. On the whole of the evidence, it seems to me much more likely than not that the LAME employees set out as a group to cause maximum disruption to Sunstate on the evening of 19 October 2010 by a concerted reporting of phenomena already by then well known to each of them. I also doubt that it was a coincidence that the QL3 in respect of these phenomena were lodged late in the shift that evening, as late in the case as two of them as just minutes prior to the close of the shift. Indeed, it seems inherently likely that Mr Kuhanez lodgement at 23:23 on Monday, 18 October 2010 of a defect entry in a QL3 in respect of Dash 8 aircraft, registration number VH-QOD, but then newly modified, was something of a rehearsal for the concerted action which followed the next evening.
  5. The unreliability of the accounts given by the LAME employees was in marked contrast to the account given by Mr Lidbury both as to the actions which were taken within QantasLink following the evening of 19 October 2010 and as to why he had come to make particular decisions in respect of those particular employees.
So basically the judge did not believe their actions were reasonable in carrying out their duties but of a different nature.

Logan wraps it up simply as follows:

  1. In his business role, Mr Lidbury formally reported to Mr Kumar but the reporting truly was formal. So far as the decisions taken by Sunstate in respect of the LAME employees were concerned Mr Lidbury was for all practical purposes the directing mind and will of that company. Even if, contrary to the conclusion which I have reached the particularised CA Regs could ground “workplace rights” for the purposes of the Fair Work Act, I am well satisfied that Mr Lidbury did not make the decisions in respect of the substantiation of Allegations 1 and 2 and the subsequent sanctions because the LAME employees had exercised or proposed to exercise those workplace rights. Yet further, these sanctions were certainly a reasonable, even a restrained, managerial response having regard to the findings made.
  2. While the conclusions which I have reached dictate that this application must be dismissed it is desirable in the circumstances of this case and having regard to the objects of the Fair Work Act (s 3, particularly objects (a) and (f)) to conclude with these observations.
  3. The trade of a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer is an honourable and responsible calling. The myriad of people who daily commute by air in, to and from Australia rely upon persons engaged in this trade faithfully to perform their duties. There is a strong public interest, evidenced by responsibilities specified in the CA Regs, in the promotion within workplaces where licensed aircraft maintenance engineers work of a culture whereby persons in this trade are encouraged to report faults in respect of aircraft. Further, the existence of such responsibilities must be recognised and not exploited by employers and unions in negotiations concerning pay and conditions.
  4. The evidence establishes that the QantasLink operators, materially including Sunstate, did promote and encourage aircraft fault reporting by employed licensed aircraft maintenance engineers. It is subversive of such a culture and antithetical to the public interest for what are in reality industrial actions to be cloaked as aviation safety issues. Perhaps it was that the LAME employees felt sorely tested by the state of negotiations concerning a replacement industrial agreement. However that may be, and it is no part of my role to make any arbitral decision concerning where the merits of the underlying claims in respect of a replacement enterprise agreement lay, what occurred on the evening of 19 October 2010 were not the acts of men faithful to their trade responsibilities.
The fact he found the actions were not faithful and a form of unprotected industrial action is rather important for Qantas as it means they now have actions under tort laws against the parties.

Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association v Sunstate Airlines (Qld) Pty Ltd [2012] FCA 1222 (6 November 2012)
Phalanger is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2012, 00:53
  #610 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: tarmac
Posts: 12
is there any good to come from this as a LAME and the ALAEA?
tarmacrat is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2012, 04:27
  #611 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Alabama, then Wyoming, then Idaho and now staying with Kharon on Styx houseboat
Age: 57
Posts: 1,437
Bar Mitzvah, engine change, peanuts and circumcision anyone?

Qantas soothes Jewish concerns

by Damon Kitney
From:The Australian
November 03, 2012 12:00AM

QANTAS has moved to reassure members of the Australian Jewish community that they will be able to fly to Europe and Britain on partner airlines without travelling through the United Arab Emirates after the airline's landmark deal with Dubai-based Emirates.

Senior figures in the Jewish community are believed to have been initially angered by Qantas's decision to sign a joint venture with Emirates in September because of the problems it would cause Israeli passport holders and due to the UAE being a participant in the Arab League boycott of Israel.

Last edited by gobbledock; 7th Nov 2012 at 04:31. Reason: Attending Sabbath
gobbledock is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2012, 04:50
  #612 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 207
all they want to do is screw the LAME'S,for protecting the public who fly,these gov ministers and qf management are all in bed together,this time vote this gov out.
Bagus is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2012, 05:06
  #613 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 64
is there any good to come from this as a LAME and the ALAEA?
If they had not pushed this in the first place then they would of not had the judgement about it being unprotected action. Sometimes it is better to know when you are on the back foot. It's a rather comprehensive judgement in that the judge did go out on a limb to give them an extra chance as he considered it in the public interest. He then decided what happened was not.

It would seem the general protection clauses will give some support if people are diligent in carrying out the CA. This is a matter of public policy. But this case shows you can't sit on them on a known issues then bring it up when desired for no reason. You need to be diligent from day 1. If you do not act on it promptly but then do later it is considered that you are either (1) putting people in danger not carrying out your role or (2) believe otherwise but trying to cause issues.

The other important thing was also they could not show there was any culture of danger. The airline fixed the issues before placing the aircraft back and had supported rectifying the issue on an aircraft earlier

It turns on how the people acted not if they acted. Actions should of been done in a way to minimise damage (that does not mean you don't act on issues, just not in a manner which causes more damage than necessary). Especially durring times like those.

Last edited by Phalanger; 7th Nov 2012 at 05:18.
Phalanger is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2012, 06:18
  #614 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: In da Big Smoke
Posts: 2,483
I thought the issue was first presented to CASA and/or DOTARS who promptly handballed it and as a result it was then written up as a defect because the LAMEs had nowhere else to go and were legally exposed if someone busted open the door in flight causing a security breach hence the delay between finding the defect and writing it up.

Last edited by neville_nobody; 7th Nov 2012 at 06:20.
neville_nobody is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2012, 06:22
  #615 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Bexley
Posts: 1,789
The judge got the sequence of events wrong. As soon as the defect was found it was reported. The previously known shimming fix was related to something else.

It is more like this. The judge decides he is going to rule one way. He then throws every reason he can even remotely think of into the decision to deter the losing party from appealing his finding.

Not much good to come out of this though. It may be the catalyst for change to aviation laws though.
ALAEA Fed Sec is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2012, 06:51
  #616 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 64
Read the judgement. There is a length discussion on when they knew about the issue. There were too many issues with the story.
Phalanger is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2012, 08:44
  #617 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: tarmac
Posts: 12
What are the many issues with this story?
I though there was only one as LAME's.
tarmacrat is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2012, 23:37
  #618 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 64
The issue was their stories changed in different declarations. They got to a point where they conflicted with paper evidence and work tasks which meant the judge had little reason to follow them.

Last edited by Phalanger; 7th Nov 2012 at 23:40.
Phalanger is offline  
Old 8th Nov 2012, 10:32
  #619 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: clouds
Age: 35
Posts: 30
I think that it would not have gone to court anyway, if CASA had backed the LAMEs in the first place. CASA should get a bullet for allowing this to get so far. The latches were clearly defective. They had to be written up to get them replaced. There is no other avenue for the LAME to use. The LAME can't just wait for crew to raise defects, because they also are too scared to put pen to paper. This is a useless situation and it can't improve unless something changes
Isamu Pahoa is online now  
Old 8th Nov 2012, 10:46
  #620 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Bexley
Posts: 1,789
This is a useless situation and it can't improve unless something changes
This is so true. Our whole industry is stuffed because of a useless Government and morally corrupt airline Executives.
ALAEA Fed Sec is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.