Photo © Scandpix
A Danish documentary last night showed how the safety by SAS is raised concern from it´s pilots and aviation authorities. Not just the incidents in the latest months that we all know about but a year-long unbroken chain of safety problems that has been covered up by SAS and even aviation authorities.
In the latest SAS material near misses, dangerous situation etc. etc. is reported to be 0 for 1999 and 0 for 2000. However the documentary showed that SAS at least had 5 very dangerous situation each of those two ears. The figures were confirmed by danish and swedish aviations authorities who investigated the incidents but denied by the vice CEO of SAS! She was qouted to say "it depends on how you choose to see the numbers"! However she admitted that the SAS material might lead ordinary people to the conclusion that SAS had not had any problem in 1999 and 2000.
Pilot reports raising concern on the safety is being neglected by SAS management and pilots who complain are called in for "friendly conversations". The programme clearly showed that the SAS management is indeed were well informed but chooses to be silent.
Further the documentary showed how SAS has covered up various incidents by deleting the FDRs (flight date recorders). On two occations - one in Chicago and one in Copenhagen - B767s were involved in episodes where the aircrafts nearly overran the runways on take-off due to erroneous figures entered into the flight computers. However the crews did not stop the FDRs so that the informations would not be deleted automatically and both Danish aviation authories - and the FAA on the Chicago incident - was not notified before month later and not as stated in the law within a very limited time. Presious and important information was at that time long gone from the FDRs. In all 3 or 4 cases where SAS (on purpose??) did not follow regulation and ended up with unuseful FDRs!
Further the documentary showed how SAS despite knowledge of problems with severe metal fatigue on DC-9s and advise from Boeing/McDonnell Douglad and FAA to have the airplanes grounded for inspection, SAS continued to use its fleet (at that time) of 26 DC-9-41! 18 month later - last summer - when authorities realized that SAS had not inspected the aircrafts as advised all SAS DC-9 were immediately grounded for inspection.
Another case shown was the explosion of at PW JT8D-11 mounted to a DC-9-41. Shortly after take off from Copenhagen SE-DOM had an engine explosion. The crew managed to bring the plane back and made an emergency landing. What happened afterwords became farcical. The director of the department within Danish aviation authories who handles crashes etc. had to fight a heavy battle with SAS to have the engine inspected. The engine was to be inspected by Sabena in Brussels but SAS would not hand over the history of the engine. This battle ended up with the head of investigation being desmissed by government and SAS was again protected to do whatever they wanted.
Other aviation authories stated that they could not see any problems in SAS investigating its own safety problems and that those who wanted SAS safety problems to be inspected by independent investigator (like the Sabena check on the JT8D-11) only caused problem in the good relationship with SAS. In other words - the Danish government approves that SAS does whatever they want - even deleting FDRs to cover up incidents.
Noone at the Danish government, SAS board and SAS direction wanted to comment on the program.
However I´m sure that we´ve not heard the last on these matters as Danish Newspapers today brings further to the story!
Further info (in danish) also showing some pictures http://www.dr.dk/tv-fakta/rapporte/SAS/sorte_box.htm