Prestigious aircraft maintenance centre “to blame” for terror-flight over Lisbon

Months after an Embraer jet went haywire over Lisbon – leaving its pilots and crew physically and emotionally shattered – aviation experts have confirmed what the jet company’s president suggested at the time: maintenance work at prestigious aerospace company OGMA, 35% owed by the State, the rest by Embraer (soon to be called Boeing Brazil) was to blame (click here).

The investigation by GPIAFF – Portugal’s office of prevention and investigation of aircraft (and train) accidents – has identified “the existence of failings by OGMA at various levels of control which should evaluate and analyse maintenance work executed and detect anomalies”.

What has been being investigated as a “serious incident” has now been ‘upgraded’ to a the category of ‘accident’ and will now continue, with a view to compiling “a list of safety recommendations”.

Reports meantime have stressed that Embraer will be “reviewing” all maintenance instructions for jets of Air Astana’s type, along with “possible alterations”, by September 30 of this year.

Damage to the Air Astana Embraer ERJ-190 has been explained as “important” and “structural”.

Back in November when the incident shook all those aware of the potential consequences of a jet coming down over Lisbon, reports suggested the jet would never be in a condition to fly again.

Months on, no story has touched on the financial consequences of the incident – nor whether Air Astana will be demanding compensation.

GPIAFF’s investigation has discovered the cause of all the incident: incorrect installation of the aileron cable system.

The problem would certainly have affected control of the aircraft, said the report.

As news stories explained at the time, had it not been for the intervention of Air Force F16 pilots and a lot of creative trouble-shooting, Flight 1388 may never have managed to land safely.

What perhaps was a blessing was that the flight was carrying only pilots and crew.

The jet had been at OGMA in Alverca for roughly two weeks. It then set out on was what’s known in the industry as a ‘ferry flight’ to Minsk – the plan being to fly on to Almaty, Kazakhstan, to return to passenger service.

Air Astana is the flag carrier of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Its CEO is Briton Peter Foster who told reporters seven months ago that “on the basis of available facts” the only explanation for his plane’s ordeal was “the result of maintenance work performed by OGMA”.

According to Wikipedia, OGMA is “an authorised maintenance center for Embraer, Lockheed Martin, Eurocopter and Rolls Royce”.

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