Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) grounded China Southern's flying college near Perth, Western Australia, on 27 February, following the resignation of the college's chief pilot/chief flying instructor (CFI).

The safety authority says that, although the college had nominated a new CFI, the authority had delayed its approval of the appointment until "certain systemic issues" had been addressed.

"There was an investigation into China Southern's current Australian pilot training operations, relating to some irregularities in their record keeping, when the CFI suddenly departed," says CASA.

The authority adds: "They didn't have any paperwork in place for a new chief pilot and, because our people were already investigating these irregularities, we wanted those systemic issues related to China Southern sorted out before the new CFI was approved, so we could be sure there were no problems that might affect the new appointee's ability to perform his duties." Late last week the college, which has 155 student pilots, all from China, was expecting the new CFI appointment to be approved and for the grounding to be lifted. China Southern was sending a team of auditors to review the college's operation.

Sources say the alleged irregularities relate to the falsification of training records and the completion in simulators of training sequences which rules require to be conducted in aircraft.

Source: Flight International