Friday, August 27, 2010

Meridian News

Nothing to do with dear, lovely old Fred Dinenage. No. This is the story of what flies above. Specifically the state of the cargo crates that groan in and out of Chas 'n' Dave Tracey Emin Margate Manston RAF International Airport.

If you recall, Manston regular Meridian was recently banned from our skies for failing safety and technical inspections. although you can still see their logo proudly displayed on the freight section of the airport's website. More recently another Manston freight operator, Egyptair, has come under scrutiny and been warned that it could be banned from flying in EU airspace for 'systemic safety deficiencies'.

Just what Meridian's technical and safety failures consisted of has, up to now, been a mystery. But yesterday the findings of an FOI request to the Department for Transport fell into the old Eastcliff mitts, and it makes terrifying reading.

These are the lowlights:

Four inspections of Meridian were carried out in July, in addition to which the DfT has 'evidence indicating that an aircraft (operated by Meridian) took off significantly overweight on one occasion in July'.

The first CAA inspection on 8 July 2010 discovered, amongst other things, fuel leaks, no information about temporary repairs to No 3 engine, and bags not correctly secured and restrained.

On 15 July 2010 the CAA found delaminated flight deck windows, repair of a deferred defect extended 'well beyond limits', valve caps missing from main wheels, temporary repairs of a panel not recorded, no torque check on wing tank access panel screws, protective breathing equipment for crew unserviceable and a visible fuel leak still unattended to.

On 22 July 2010 the CAA noted flight crew seat covers worn and holed, no fireproof ID plate near the main entrance, a large screw head sheared off on the right hand wing, and seals on the right hand inboard fuel tank panels reused after fuel leak rectification.

A second inspection occurred on 22 July which found interior equipment not correctly secured, borrowed breathing equipment which the crew wasn't trained to use, the cargo locking mechanism not suitable for the pallet in use, a smoke detector in the lower hold unserviceable, incorrect performance calculations (presumably regarding things like weight and power on take-off), the flight engineer lacking an English language proficiency endorsement (and a spare pair of glasses!), old seals used on a fuel leak rectification and a fundamental error in load planning which required re-distribution of cargo.

Flamin' Nora! And to think those things were flying a few hundred feet above my bonce!

I know most Thanetians will probably roll their eyes and mutter about 'elf and safety which, considering some of the heaps you see on our roads, is only to be expected. I, on the other hand, am grateful that you can't buy an MOT for a knackered old DC8 in the local pub!


Anonymous said...

On another thread I recounted the tale of my summary hanging by the Squadron sergeant major.

It was an Army Air Corps unit.

To operate helicopters in the field we used "Flexi-op" servicing. IE The aircraft were in effect always subject to routine servicing. As the hours mounted up so a servicing op fell due. Say oil change (and a sample would be filtered to send for test of what residue was in the old oil to get a heads up on any illnesses the engine was developing). Then, the aircraft might fly a couple of sorties and another servicing op fall due etc

In between summary hangings by the SSM and occasional forget rank fights on the cobbles with the same fellow (Excellent SSM)we were the top unit of the whole armed forces for both flight safety and flight serviceability.

Sorry RN and RAF but the facts speak for themselves. Of course the Royal Marines Commandos recognised this because we of the Army did their wee helicopters for them.

But one does not need this albeit impressive CV to conclude that what you describe ECR is serious.

There is provision in Army ops for "Acceptable deferred defects" but they have to be referred to and authorized by senior REME. Their decision is based on military operational necessity and technical risk.

It would seem that civil aviation monitoring has worked ?

The same standards a notorious Thanet blogger recommended (In reports directly to Tony Blair) to be extended to the test and maintenance of essential infrastructure installations like backup generators.

Anonymous said...

So they just get a £1000 fine and what of our aquifer with the leaks then.?.

What is really interesting is that they release these facts but not MKs safety adult?

Richard Eastcliff said...

I suppose they're not that bothered with MK now they've gorn down the khazi!

I suppose the wider question is how many freight carriers will RAFC'N'DMMKLIA be left with at this rate??!!!?

Anonymous said...

Wonder if the servicing of military aircarft is so good now that most of it goes out to private contractors in the indecent haste, by successive governments, to civilianise our armed services.

As to the crap heaps flying into Manston and elsewhere in our beloved land, this is the price one pays for abandoning our island state.

The days of a green and pleasant land, surrounded by sea, protected by a stong navy and where 'johnny foreigner' was regarded with much suspicion, have gone. Swept aside by the PC, everybody is lovely attitude of our wet politicians and media.

If you open the floodgates to the outside world, along with all and sundry, you also get standards which, hitherto, we would have found unacceptable.

I would like to say each successive Labour government since '45 has made it worse but that would ignore the fact that the 'wets' in the Tory party have seldom done much to put it right.

Then, I guess, folk get the governance they deserve in a democracy.

Anonymous said...

So what do tdc think of this joke operator putting it's residents at risk - and the kiwi clowns who brought them here?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't much matter what TDC think for aircraft servicing is a bit outside their remit. Similarly the 'Kiwi clowns' as described are running an airport business. Operators using the facility are responsible for their owns standards and the CAA for checking.

It is the running of the country in total that is crap and has been for years. Get used to it.

Anonymous said...

Golly. These are the sorts of things which the Manston Airport Group warned us about. Just about everybody in a position of authority said they were scaremongering. Looks like just about everybody in a position of authority was involved in the cover-up.

Anonymous said...

I'll admit to knowing a bit about aircraft maintenance, what I will say is that none of these would have caused it to drop out the sky!

Anonymous said...

Oh, well that's OK then.

Anonymous said...


Yet.......and one other thing how many genuine complainants got fobbed off by the current owners that all was well and the aircraft was flying to standard procedures etc...utter bollocks - so TDC and Infertile will have to explain themselves wont they?

Anonymous said...

"I'll admit to knowing a bit about aircraft maintenance"

Really? Anyone who works in aviation knows that minor defects can lead to major accidents. Things which, on the face of it, appear insignificant, can prove fatal when systems are stressed.

It's worrying that someone who says they know about maintenance does not think that the things listed here matter. Please tell me you don't work at Manston. I'd hate to get on a plane which had been serviced by someone with such a lacodaisical attitude.

However, some of the problems listed here are not minor. Overloading, poor distribution of cargo, fuel leaks and flight deck crew not able to comunicate properly with air-traffic control. Any one of these could easily be the major cause of an accident. Indeed, I could provide examples of accidents which have been caused by them.

It's high time the Council commissioned a full-blown risk-assessment on Manston. With safety concerns over so many users of the airport I could do with some reassurance which doesn't come from a grease-monkey who says he knows a bit about aircraft maintenance.

Anonymous said...

I didn't say they didn't matter, just that each individual defect won't cause a smoking hole in the ground. You could find any number of these individual items on any airline, even major ones. Ask anyone who has been in aviation for stories and the things you hear will put you off flying completely, regardless of which airline you think should be adhering to all rules.

Anonymous said...

anon again!

We should all be patient and wait......

Then when one of the dodgy un MOT'd birds does crash on Ramsgate Harbour Museum, we can say.. "told you so!"


Anonymous said...

anon (again) You can complacently wait for disaster to strike. I will speak up to try to avert it. And before you say it, no, I don't trust the so-called professionals.

Aviation is closed-shop; resistant and obstructive to external scrutiny. Until they learn to open up and display more honesty about safety matters I won't trust them.

In evidence for this I cite our friend, the maintenance expert, who tells us that all airlines are awash with defects and nobody would ever fly if they were aware of the true picture.

Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure of working with a BA crew in the US a few years back. I was up drinking with them until the early hours before the following morning's flight back to Gatwick. Of course the co-pilot kept a lid on the drinking but the cap was pretty pissed, and this just a few hours before take-off.

They let me sit in the jump seat for the departure at which point the cap told the co-pilot he really ought to take the thing up. Meanwhile the flight engineer was scratching his head and muttering about some bad sh*t with No. 3 engine but was told by the pilot it didn't matter as it was a 'known fault'. I have to say I almost pooped myself.

Not as bad as a flight back from Budapest on Malev in 1991 in a converted Tupolev bomber though. That's another story.

Anonymous said...

I once had a terrible flight on a DC3 of Malayan Airlines from Penang to Singapore. Thought my time had come but it battled on and made it. I did not known then who to blame for my ghastly experience but, thanks to the writers to this page enlightening me, I shall now complain to the TDC! It must have been their fault for everything else seems to be.

Anonymous said...

Brian White. See you next Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

If this is true then all the aircraft complaints have not been handled accurately at all.

The mention of a a TDC/BW meeting!....perhaps mention should be made of why TDC has allowed the 106 to be illegally dismantled and whilst we are on the the subject of the 106 - its a legal obligation that ties TDC to it and the so called decision making process.

We can only wait for some pathetic press release from TDC that alls well when its clearly not!!!

Can anyone enlighten us to the Night Flight constipation quotas from Infertile

Anonymous said...

anon again!

It has long since been my belief that if things are built for a purpose, then they must be used as such, or closed down.
Manston, unfortunately, has become some sort of political lever. It is also being abused by the people who use it.
The owners must be in some sort of quandry as to exactly to do with it. Airspace must be kept safe, as our roads. We all know roads are comparitively safe UNTIL someone breaks the rules. Rule breakers should have all their priviledges stopped, and their vehicles impounded by a responsible organisation (i.e. not cowboy clampers), until such time that their vehicles are 1. safe 2. insured 3. driven (piloted) by qualified person(s)
To coin a phrase.... simples!

Anonymous said...

I can't find how to complain on the airport's web-site. They used to have form you could download or fill in online. Does anyone how to get to it?

Anonymous said...

anon again!

Kent International Airport – Manston
PO Box 500
CT12 5BP

Try all 3 of these addy's. I just did.

Anonymous said...

The first link you provide is the CPRE web-site.
The second isn't a web-site. It's the address for the airport.
The third web-site isn't accessible.

The airport's web-site is Where does it tell you, on this web-site how to register a complaint?

Anonymous said...


They don't and I am wondering if our very own teeny tiny council will deal with this or protect its very own preferred developer(s).

Its about time some of our elected wasters got off the fence and actually did something instead of posturing!!!!!!!

Perhaps the MACC will finally get to grips with this at the forthcoming public meeting?