The UK Civil Aviation Authority has been given the go-ahead to conduct more spot checks of foreign airlines operating into the UK.

But there are no plans to extend formally the monitoring of foreign aircraft safety. The move follows further investigation of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), which has flouted fuel safety regulations at London Heathrow Airport for years (Flight International, 19-25 May).

The CAA says it has no powers to require reporting outside the mandatory occurrence reporting system, which applies to UK-registered aircraft only. Any such requirement would have to be initiated by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), says the CAA.

The DETR, which handles all issues concerning foreign operators, repeats that the safety practices of an airline are the responsibility of the state of registration, and "that's not about to change". Although the DETR has provided the CAA with the resources to carry out more spot checks on foreign airlines, it has not confirmed whether this is a temporary or permanent arrangement. The CAA reports any malpractices to the DETR, whose task it is to liase with the state concerned.

No reports about the MAS fuel shortage problem reached the CAA until a Confidential Human Factors Incident Report was filed in February, says its group director safety regulation, Richard Profit. But British Airways, MAS' London Heathrow engineering service provider, claims to have given the CAA at least six reports detailing MAS Boeing 747-400 arrivals with dangerously low fuel levels. It was from BA's engineering records that the CAA was able to uncover the extent of the MAS fuel policy malpractice.

Malaysian transport minister Seri Ling Liong has admitted through the state news agency that the confidentially reported incident was accurate, but insists that the 3.6t fuel remaining met International Civil Aviation Organisation minimum requirements, if not UK CAA ones.

Source: Flight International