On the prowl no more: CASA grounds Tiger

Tiger with A320 model at AVV launch.JPGNow CASA is the one doing the growling.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority suspended the domestic Australian operations of low-cost carrier Tiger Airways at 11pm Friday night in connection with further safety breaches after the carrier was issued a show cause notice.

“CASA no longer has confidence in the ability of Tiger Airways Australia to satisfactorily address the safety issues that have been identified,” in reference to the show cause notice CASA says in a statement.

The notice was largely about the carrier’s training and maintenance oversight, and not any aircraft problems, although those areas of concern were not initially released to the public. The full contents of the show cause notice have not been made public. This page in April made a freedom of information request about the notice’s content and is still awaiting an outcome.

“CASA believes permitting the airline to continue to fly poses a serious and imminent risk to air safety.”

Tiger operates of fleet of 10 Airbus A320 aircraft in Australia. Jetstar’s A320 fleet continues to fly unrestricted. Tiger flights between Singapore and Australia continue to fly since those are operated by the Singaporean division.

The grounding is effective Saturday for five working days, during which time CASA can apply to the Federal Court for an extension of an undetermined time period. Tiger says in a statement its flights have been suspended until Saturday 9 July and it “continues to cooperate fully with the industry regulator and safety underpins our operations at all times”. Tiger says affected passengers will be offered a refund or opportunity to travel at a later date.

CASA says in a Tweet it will issue more information shortly. Tiger says it will issue an update 3pm Saturday.

The March show cause notice concerned the carrier’s oversight of maintenance and pilot training, but not the maintenance and pilot training per se. Details of the show cause notice were not initially released. Tiger responded within the allocated time period and as part of CASA’s evaluation, CASA prohibited Tiger from further expanding its operations, one of a number of conditions CASA says it imposed on Tiger.

“These required actions to improve the proficiency of Tiger Airways Australia’s pilots, improvements to pilot training and checking processes, changes to fatigue management, improvements to maintenance control and ongoing airworthiness systems and ensuring appropriately qualified people fill management and operational positions,” CASA says.

During the carrier’s May annual results briefing, group chief executive Tony Davis cut the Australian division’s growth for the year, saying Tiger Australia “will focus its activities on profitably flying than achieving growth in this current year”. He made no mention of the CASA restriction.

As a result, Tiger returned to Asia an A320 that had arrived in Australia in April for domestic use but had not been permitted to enter service as the show cause notice was still in effect.

More recently Tiger had two incidents in a three-week period in June pertaining to aircraft reaching below-minimum altitudes, including one incident the night before its grounding.

“Since Tiger Airways Australia was served the show cause notice there have been further events raising concerns about the airline’s ability to continue to conduct operations safely,” CASA says.

CASA has previously grounded airlines, including regional carrier Aero-Tropics in 2008.


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