Airline safety is being eroded as operators cut crew training time and other costs, a senior pilot trainer has warned.
Geoff Klouth, an A320 training captain with budget carrier Jetstar Airways, said a drop in training standards and checks had prompted him to make a submission to a Senate inquiry into airline safety.
“Safety margins that were a normal part of the aviation industries and which contributed to Australia’s safety record have been and are being eroded to a point where airlines’ safety can no longer be considered as a given,” Mr Klouth told the inquiry in Canberra on Tuesday.
Advertisement: Story continues below
He said insufficient pilot and cabin crew training, poor rostering leading to increased fatigue and an overall reduction in resources were cause for concern.
Airlines had cut the training time for cabin crew and were relying more on cadet pilots to drive down their operating costs, Mr Klouth said.
Under the training system cadets effectively ended up paying an airline for their qualifications.
“The cadets at Jetstar I have just finished training, one of the cadets is getting paid in New Zealand dollars but is required to pay back his training in Australian dollars,” he said.
The New Zealand currency has depreciated 6.4 per cent against the Australian dollar since June 30, 2010.
Mr Klouth said shortening the training time for cabin crew had implications for the operation of the aircraft and passenger safety.
“If you are crammed with six weeks’ worth of knowledge in three weeks, it is inevitable that you are not going to be able to recall all the important pieces of information that you need to,” he said.
Mr Klouth recommended to the committee that training for a commercial pilot’s licence be a minimum of 1500 hours and all airlines should release their draft or final reports on safety incidents to the ATSB.