Dáil Éireann - Volume 653 - 08 May, 2008

Written Answers. - Air Services.

Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Irish citizens availing of flight services in the US could be at risk from failings in maintenance in the US and that the failure in maintenance was acknowledged in US Senate hearings on the part of the US supervisory authority; if he will confirm that the efficiency of arrangements for the rigorous enforcement of maintenance standards have been re-examined in view of these failings in the US; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17641/08]

  Deputy Noel Dempsey: I am aware of the matter that the Deputy refers to. As I indicated in my reply to Dail Question No. 155 on 23 April 2008 safety oversight of civil aviation in Ireland is the responsibility of the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) under the Irish Aviation Act 1993.

The IAA carries out rigorous surveillance and enforcement in the conduct of its safety oversight functions. Furthermore the standards applied and the quality of the surveillance is subject to standardisation inspection by the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on behalf of the EU Commission. The IAA is subject to several of these inspections per annum on a repetitive basis. These standardisation inspections are detailed and rigorous and provide independent assurance of the standards applied by the Authority.

My responsibility in relation to the safety functions of the Authority arises under Section 32 of the 1993 Act, which requires me periodically, to commission an examination of the performance by the company of its functions insofar as they relate to the application and enforcement of technical and safety standards in relation to aircraft and air navigation. The most recent examination took place in 2004 and concluded that there is a general, positive and proactive attitude and competence vis-à-vis safety and the maintenance of a high safety level. I intend to commission a further independent audit of the company’s performance this year.