Same pilot in Tiger breaches

THE same pilot was in charge of two Tiger Airways flights that breached safe flying limits and led to the airline being grounded, it has been revealed.

Aviation sources said the captain had not received any retraining between the first incident at Melbourne Airport on June 7 and when he made an unsafe low approach at Avalon Airport, in Victoria, on June 30.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority have interviewed the pilot, whose name has not been released.

The ATSB found that in the first incident, the pilot had programmed inaccurate information into the plane's navigational computer. The information was incompatible with the flight path necessary for the plane to land safely in Melbourne.

The bureau is expected to release its preliminary findings of the second - and more serious - incident on Wednesday.

Lawrie Cox, of the pilots' union, said the pilot at the centre of the incidents was ''very experienced'' on both domestic and long-haul trips.

Mr Cox claimed the flight database and not the pilot was responsible for the first incident.

''From our point of view, at no stage was either aircraft, passengers or crew in any significant risk of being in an accident. They are looking more at procedural stuff … [and] we don't believe there will be any action against our pilots in this circumstance,'' he said.

Mr Cox said Tiger had followed the appropriate internal processes following the first incident and there had not been any cause for the pilot to be retrained.

Since CASA's decision to ground the airline on June 30 - it has had the flying ban extended until August 1- more than 100 Tiger pilots have completed sessions in a flight simulator but Mr Cox said this was more to do with the airline officially recording their training rather than the training itself.

A Tiger spokeswoman said no jobs had been lost due to the grounding.

Meanwhile, Jetstar has reacted angrily to comparisons with Tiger after it grounded four of its A320 aircraft on Thursday following maintenance concerns.

The aircraft were back flying on Friday after the service, which included testing emergency light batteries, sampling hydraulic fluid and lubrication of door switches, had been completed.

''It's totally false to suggest this was a safety issue,'' Jetstar spokesman Damien Batey said. ''This was routine minor maintenance. We advised CASA of the decision to pull the aircraft and we continue to liaise with them as is normal practice.

''Just because Jetstar is committed to providing low cost fares in no way means we have lower safety standards. It's unkind to suggest any link between Jetstar and the decision to ground Tiger's fleet.''

with Mark Russell

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