A HIGHLANDS and Islands MSP has said he is “extremely concerned” about an incident in Stornoway on Wednesday where a pilot discovered a crack in the propeller of a Loganair plane moments before it was due to depart.
The pilot found the fracture as he was undertaking checks on the aircraft while passengers boarded for a flight from Stornoway to Glasgow on Wednesday morning.
It comes a week after Shetland News published excerpts from a letter from pilots union BALPA raising numerous serious concerns about the “crisis” within Loganair’s engineering department.
The letter, addressed to the airline’s chief executive Stewart Adams, complained that planes were “being returned to the line despite being unserviceable” and in some cases “aircraft retain defects that clearly affect flight safety”.
The aircraft with the cracked propeller had arrived in Stornoway from Glasgow on Wednesday morning with passengers aboard. A replacement plane was flown to Stornoway.
The company continues to insist, in the face of mounting concern, that its Saab aircraft remain up to the task of flying passengers to and from Scotland’s islands.
Now Labour MSP David Stewart, who is also the party’s transport spokesman, is seeking an “urgent” meeting with Scottish transport and islands minister Derek Mackay to ensure the issues are addressed properly.
“It is totally unacceptable that aircraft used on lifeline services are not up to scratch,” Stewart said. “I have been working this week with other MSPs in asking for an urgent meeting with the transport minister to discuss these safety issues.”
He continued: “Islanders are charged excessive amounts to use these lifeline services which are often subject to delay or cancellation, but today’s safety incident is simply not acceptable and I will be contacting the transport minister again, and the company directly, to ensure action is taken to address these issues without delay.”
A Loganair spokesman said: “The pilot noticed there was slight damage to a propeller blade during the pre-flight inspection of the aircraft scheduled to operate the Stornoway to Glasgow service.
“A replacement aircraft was flown in to take the 24 passengers on to Glasgow and the aircraft is currently being repaired by our engineers.
“We would like to apologise to our passengers for the inconvenience today and reassure them their safety and that of our crew is always the first priority, as shown by the fact the aircraft was removed from service when the fault was found.”
Concerns about its engineering department are the latest in a string of crises to hit the troubled airline this year.
In September, following months of criticism and a powerful Facebook campaign to improve the service, Loganair admitted one in four of its flights in 2015 had been delayed by 15 minutes or more.
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