Virgin Blue over maintenance records disarray

Virgin Blue over maintenance records disarray

Virgin Blue has forced itself into flying its planes within one hour of an airport during every journey in Australia because it has been unable to keep its aircraft maintenance records up-to-date.

The records management fiasco means the company cannot buy any new planesuntil it has incorporated a brand new records keeping system which canadequately test and guarantee the standards of every part of each plane.

This means that the company might not be able to register five new 737swhich are due for delivery from the US in May.

Virgin Blue voluntarily approached The Civil Aviation Safety Authority inDecember and reported faults in its maintenance records of its 40 strongfleet.

CASA has been monitoring Virgin Blue safety checks ever since and has agreedwith Virgin Blue that it needs to introduce a new system of collectingup-to-date and accurate records of each part of its Boeing 737 aircrafts,from the rotor blades on the engine to the bolts on the landing gear. Eachplane has 367, 000 parts, and these all need to be accounted for.

CASA spokesman, Peter Gibson, explained the huge records management taskfaced by Virgin Blue. "Virgin Blue is in the process of making a majorchange to its maintenance control systems, which has put a hold on itexpanding its fleet. We have done a risk audit on the existing planes and weare satisfied that they meet safety regulations, providing they fly withinone hour of an airport everywhere in Australia. This only causes a maximumof 5 minutes extra travel to each flight.

"The problem is that Virgin has grown at a much faster rate than theyexpected. It thought it would expand by 20 planes in 10 years, instead of 40in just four years. This has caused it problems with expanding itsmaintenance records keeping systems in tandem with the growth of thecompany, but now they are making huge efforts to tackle this problem andguarantee 100 percent safety for the future. The company is in the processof developing new software and systems with a greater capacity to collectand analyse data about all aircraft parts more efficiently. We have a goodrelationship with Virgin Blue and we are confident it can meet its goals inthis area."

Virgin Blue insists that it has taken these precautionary actions to preventit facing safety difficulties in the future, and not because there are anyrisks faced by passengers at the moment.

To read a previous article about Virgin Blue's approach to InformationManagement which makes life easier for passengers, click here.

Click here to read about how Ansett incorporated a document managementsolution through the use of a global portal.

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