Flight_International 28Jan2020

(Jacob Rumans) #1


12 | Flight International | 28 January-3 February 2020 flightglobal.com


azakhstan’s civil aviation
committee has uncovered a
damning list of flaws in Bek Air’s
flight operations and mainte-
nance processes, to justify the
carrier’s grounding.
One of Bek Air’s Fokker 100s
crashed on take-off from Almaty
on 27 December, resulting in the
enforced suspension of the
airline’s operation – which the
carrier had argued was illegal.
But the committee states that
Bek Air has not only suffered two
major incidents in the past three
years, but has also experienced a
“significantly higher than accept-
able” level of serious safety prob-
lems over this period.
It adds that “a number of
violations” were uncovered in a
detailed probe of the carrier initi-
ated after the suspension.
Two of these have raised
particular concern with the
committee. It states that Bek Air
has not conducted full and
proper accounting of mainte-
nance processes, particularly
regarding the transfer of compo-
nents between its aircraft.
This suggests there are
uncertainties over the actual
usage time of components,

compared with their recorded
time in operation.
“It also indicates the inability of
Bek Air to obtain spare parts,
owing to lack of funding or the dif-
ficulty of acquiring spare parts for
old aircraft,” says the committee.
Cirium fleets data lists Bek Air
as having nine Fokker 100s, pow-
ered by Rolls-Royce Tay engines,
with the airframes dating be-
tween 1989 and 1995.

But the more serious finding,
says the committee, centres on
the removal of serial number data
plates from aircraft engines.
“The identification of the en-
gines cannot be verified, nor can
their actual hours and cycles be
verified,” it states. “Several en-
gines with such problems have
been identified, casting doubt on
the suitability of all of the aircraft
engines operated by Bek Air.”

R-R has confirmed there is
no  procedure for removing the
data plates, the committee says,
and the manufacturer has not
received any information about
overhaul of the carrier’s Tay
engines since they were put into
operation in Kazakhstan.
Bek Air’s flight operations
have also raised concern. Icing
remains a prime suspect in
the  Almaty accident and
Fokker  100 procedures dictate
that the wing surfaces must be
specifically checked at three
points for ice.
But the committee says studies
of video evidence at the airport
indicate that Bek Air crews
generally did not carry out these
wing checks.
The committee has also
identified shortcomings relating
to documentation of training,
and says there is no evidence of
specific training having been
carried out for winter operations
or icing risk management.
“Given the nature of aircraft
operation in the Kazakhstan
winter, this is a serious safety
issue,” it adds.
Inspection of the carrier has
also turned up other violations
with life jackets, emergency
locator transmitters, and a lack of
fire protection in cargo compart-
ments. “In general, the state of
the  fleet is unsatisfactory,” the
committee says.
Bek Air will be instructed,
within 10 days of the inspection
work concluding, to submit a cor-
rective action plan to eliminate
all the problems. If it fails to
resolve the problems within six
months, its certification – which
has been indefinitely suspended
since 27 December – will be
completely revoked.
The carrier had appealed the
suspension, arguing that as the
commission investigating the
Almaty crash has yet to reach
conclusions, the move was
“premature”. It also cited “gross
violation” of procedures. ■

Twelve occupants were killed when Fokker jet crashed at Almaty

Chine Nouvelle/SIPA/Shutterstock


Bek Air probe reveals safety problems

Regulator identifies carrier’s poor maintenance accounting procedures, lack of wing checks and inadequate training

Operator defends reputation against ‘strained, biased’ remarks

Bek Air is continuing to defend
its operations and practices after
being heavily criticised by
Kazakhstan’s regulator.
The grounded carrier is accus-
ing Kazakhstan’s aviation admin-
istration of proving “strained and
biased” remarks about its proce-
dures and safety management
following an inspection.
In particular, the regulator
highlighted missing data plates
on engines which, it said, pre-
vented identification of individual
powerplants or their usage.
Bek Air attributes the loss of
some data plates to “vibrations
and other loads on the aircraft”,

claiming that it chose to remove
plates which were “weakly
attached” to expensive compo-
nents – including engines – and
store them at engineering
facilities for record-keeping.
“Labels were fitted to the units
if they were sent for replacement
or repair,” it adds. “There has not
been a single case of confusion.”
While Bek Air claims this
practice is not specifically prohib-
ited, it says it will make duplicates
to fit on engines and parts to
help improve tracking.
It insists it has no problem af-
fording spares for its small Fokker
100 fleet, spending a claimed

$12 million last year, and is within
its rights to swap components
between aircraft if necessary.
Bek Air has also countered the
regulator’s accusations over
training and procedures for
winter operations.
It argues that its pre-flight
procedures include ensuring that
control surfaces are clean,
including with tactile methods.
Bek Air points out that its
flightcrew undergo training in
Amsterdam twice per year, and
the airline also provides supple-
mentary training which covers
pre-departure checks during
icing conditions. ■
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