Sir - Wilfried Mommaert's letter (Flight International, 31 January-6 February, P74) raises a valid point.

The life-threatening situation arises when an accountant interferes in the critical balance between safety and cost. He will always err (potentially fatally) on the side of cost. The engineer will err on the side of safety (if he has had the training to recognise it), but we all know that safety costs.

European Joint Aviation Regulations are eroding the power and professional status of the engineer and I suspect that the UK Civil Aviation Authority would prefer to leave all the minutiae of training, maintenance and operations to the airlines, subject to financial constraints set by accountants and higher management, who may never have handled an aircraft.

Accountants proclaim that the "virtual-reality" classroom provides adequate training and, consequently, the standards of future aviation engineers, are being set by people who have never actually, done the job.

It is surprising that an airline's financial standing is rarely held up as a reason for a maintenance error.

Does it matter that aircraft are maintained in Papua New Guinea and flown in Europe? There is a global standard, is there not? Experienced engineers, I suggest, are well able to judge the "uniformity" of servicing.

It is a fact, that there are not quite as many variables in bookkeeping, as there are in the methods of treating corrosion, for example. Corrosion is not neatly filed in black and white and triplicate, but merely encased somewhere in plastic padding and green primer - waiting.


Taunton, Somerset, UK

Source: Flight International