Norway's civil aviation authority claims to have completely overhauled its organisation in the three years since a serious icing upset involving a Coast Air ATR 42-300, the inquiry into which led to a damning attack on the CAA for failing to maintain adequate safety oversight at the airline.
While the Accident Investigation Board Norway criticised deficiencies in the now-defunct airline's flight-safety programme and quality systems, it laid much of the responsibility before the CAA whose inaction, it says, allowed the situation to persist.
But a spokesman for the CAA says the organisation is "completely different" and has undergone "major changes" since transferring from Oslo to its current headquarters at Bodo.
"We've done a lot of things since the move to Bodo," he says. "Our procedures are much, much better today, we're in a totally different state as an organisation."
The accident board's scathing conclusions emerged after a long-running inquiry into Coast Air flight 602 which, on 14 September 2005, experienced serious control difficulties as it attempted to climb through severe icing.
© Danish Aviation Photo/AirTeamImages.com
As it passed the Folgefonna glacier, en route to Oslo, the ATR's climb performance became impaired by ice build-up and the aircraft rolled 45° to the right, losing 1,500ft in height. As the crew regained control and tried to continue the climb the aircraft then suffered a second similar uncommanded roll, this time to the left, before recovering and completing the flight.
In its inquiry the investigation board says the civil aviation authority at "numerous times" discovered "considerable deficiencies" in the airline's flight-safety programme, quality system and operations documentation.
Coast Air had failed to revise its standard operating procedures in the three years before the incident. Crucially it had failed to incorporate ATR instructions on handling severe icing - including quick-action memory items - despite these having been issued two years previously.
But the inquiry says that, despite expressing concern and requiring corrective action, the authority did not monitor whether the airline had addressed the issues. It increased neither the frequency of inspections nor their intensity, the investigators add: "No concrete warnings were issued about the possible consequences on the company's approval."
Given the significance of the discoveries, the investigators even question whether the authority could have carried out a "sufficiently thorough" initial inspection for approval of the company in 1999.
Failure by the civil aviation authority to follow up the problems at Coast Air, it concludes, contributed to the deficiencies at the airline being left uncorrected. Despite the problems at the airline, the authority did not dissuade the Norwegian transport ministry from allocating new routes to the carrier during a 2005 tender.
Source: Air Transport Intelligence news