A maintenance oversight by Ansett Australia late last year which forced a temporary grounding of seven of the airline's nine Boeing 767-200s has highlighted a major deficiency in the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority's (CASA) audit system.


The Australian Transport Safety Board (ATSB), Ansett Australia and CASA are investigating "a safety deficiency" that caused the three-day grounding of the aircraft following the discovery of a maintenance over-run. The ATSB's study includes the effectiveness of self-regulation, the apparent failure of CASA's audit system to detect the error and Ansett's maintenance quality assurance system.

Ansett sources say the maintenance over-run can be traced to a technical records keeper who misread a 1997 Boeing service bulletin. The bulletin mandated structural inspections for aircraft reaching 25,000 cycles, but he misinterpreted it as a 50,000 cycle requirement. Some of the 767s had already exceeded the limit, one by more than 10,000 cycles.

Ansett alerted CASA and Boeing. The aircraft were grounded, but returned to service three days later once a frequent inspections plan was agreed.

Source: Flight International