Australia's CASA to decide on Tiger grounding extension in 24h

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Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) will decide within the next 24 hours if it will extend the grounding of Tiger Airways Australia.

The regulator could make a decision today or tomorrow, but is likely to do so in the next 24 hours, said a CASA spokesman.

"We are meeting constantly with Tiger, there are documents being prepared but there has been no finalisation. The discussions are constructive and they've been co-operating," he added.

CASA grounded the Australian arm of the Singapore-based low-cost carrier on 2 July, citing safety concerns. The grounding is in effect until 9 July but CASA can apply to the Federal Court to extend the grounding if it feels more time is needed for investigations. Tiger Airways Australia, which operates only domestic Australian flights, has since temporarily halted all ticket sales.

The grounding comes after CASA found "deficiences" in the ongoing training of the airline's pilots, the regulator said in a transcript released today.

While the pilots had received sufficient initial training, CASA said Tiger had failed in its checks on its pilots' "ongoing competency and performance".

"In terms of pilot training, these pilots get the same training as other pilots who fly for large airlines. It's more to do with the ongoing training provided by the airline; the checking of the proficiency of the pilots by the ariline, as part of their normal duty. Now every airline has to do that - with Tiger we've seen some deficiences," said CASA's spokesman.

The regulator issued a show-cause notice to the airline in March, ordering it to tighten pilot training and fatigue management among other measures. In June, the airline's Airbus A320s were involved in two separate incidents in which the aircraft descended below minimum safe altitude. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating.

CASA's spokesman said the concerns over Tiger's pilots are not related to them being overworked. "There are flight and duty times set for pilots and that's within the aviation regulations," he said. Rather, the regulator is concerned about the airline "managing their pilots and other safety obligations in the right way and that's where they're falling down".