I feel compelled to respond to what is now a train of articles on aviation safety in Canada in order to bring some balance and objectivity to the reporting that has been offered to date by the Toronto Star. Having worked for Air Canada Jazz in the past, partly during the period that was referred to by some of its current maintenance staff, I can speak with first-hand knowledge.
Several of the examples being cited in the article are not only extremely dated, they are not factual. Having been the director responsible for maintenance quality and engineering at the time, I was heavily involved in the follow-up to the leading edge incident. The writers also characterize the results of a Transport Canada audit completely erroneously. The fact is that the audit results reflected only minor deficiencies that were mostly administrative in nature. I also find it telling that the maintenance staff quoted in the article actually admit they knowingly released aircraft they considered to be unsafe or out-of-limits.
Jazz was one of the first and most aggressive airlines in Canada and North America to begin implementing several safety-related innovations, such as human factors training and non-punitive safety reporting. These things are hallmarks of a healthy safety culture. The airline also treated safety with prominence within the senior ranks of the organization and formalized the monitoring and reporting of safety issues in many ways.
Of course, there are always improvements that must be pursued in any organization, but it should be acknowledged that Jazz has always been ahead of the regulatory curve by implementing safety-related policies and processes well before they were mandatory. Jazz has also been a true partner with Transport Canada, which has itself been very innovative and proactive in regard to industry safety.
Even other aviation jurisdictions across the world recognize that Canada's approach to aviation safety ranks among the best, along with countries like Australia and the United Kingdom.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this reporting is that it soils the reputation of perhaps the highest calibre aviation maintenance workforce in the country (coast-to-coast). Aviation maintenance professionals have fought very hard for many years to be seen as what they are - highly trained, motivated, critically important and conscientious professionals. The pilot, in-flight, and other staff who work at Jazz are the same, true professionals who put safety first. The individuals who offered this misleading information have done a great disservice to their colleagues who have a lot to be proud of. I, for one, would put the safety of my family and friends in the hands of Air Canada Jazz any time and I am proud to have been associated with it.
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