Airlines clash over safety

A Samoa Air aircraft with a staff member at the hangar at Faleolo International Airport.

A Samoa Air aircraft with a staff member at the hangar at Faleolo International Airport.

Alan Ah Mu

APIA: FRIDAY 6 SEPTEMBER 2013: Unsafe practices by Samoa Air maintenance staff threaten the safety of the public.
This is an allegation made by competitor Polynesian Airlines.
It is contained in a written report given to Polynesian management by it’s staff who work at Faleolo International Airport in the hangar which they share with Samoa Air.
The report was then forwarded to Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (MWTI).

It says:
“In the interest of the overall SAFETY for the Engineering hangar and Polynesian staff personnel I am prompted to submit this report following numerous reports concerning this particular unsafe practice by Samoa Air Maintenance staff

  • Draining Aviation fuel from one aircraft for the purpose of topping up fuel in the other aircraft.

“This incidence took place on the 24th Aug (last week) inside the Hangar and was witnessed by our Staff.
“Our Staff witnessed Samoa Air crew draining fuel from their grounded BN2 Islander (inside the Hangar) into a plastic bucket without proper bonding connected (bonding wires protect any static electricity from igniting the much volatile av-gas fuel).
“This has been the one of many incidents that have occurred on regular basis but this time it occurred inside the Hangar.
“These unsafe practices could have fatal consequences affecting both Samoa Air and our own staff and properties when given the right conditions.
“The action mentioned above by Samoa Air crew is like a time bomb and all (that) is needed is a simple spark to ignite it.

  • BN2 Islander was out of service for almost three  weeks due to a massive electrical faults when its battery suffered a condition called thermal run-away .( this is when an overheated  battery electrolyte [acid] boils and eventually burst out off the battery casing).
  • Last Wednesday afternoon Its Islander went on a Test flight since it was grounded. In the evening when it returned back in the Hangar, our maintenance Team sported several other areas of MAJOR concerns with this aircraft that I refrain from listing here.
  • Please note that Public Safety is the main and the only reason for this report and it’s not intended to bad mouth anybody or Samoa Air.



Chief Executive Officer of Samoa Air, Chris Langton, says the report is malicious and false.

“Yes this document was somehow ‘leaked’ without any author’s identity,” Langton says by email.

“It was passed to us from MWTI for our comment and we’ve done that,” he says.

“This ‘report’ is essentially malicious and its content quite false.

“I doubt that the author will ever reveal himself.

“I am concerned because the projection is that someone who knows a thing or two about engineering is the author and that is supposed to give the ‘report’ some substance.

“We had a similar situation last year when someone in the same company made equally inflammatory and wrong statements which after due process were found to be also quite full of rubbish. This one is no different.

“The report should be recognised as for what it is… waste paper material and it doesn’t say much about the people who are happy to perpetrate it.

“The Hangar at Faleolo (International Airport) is a joint user facility and is under the control of SAA and not anyone else.

“System wise we all answer to the MWTI through our CAD and they evaluate the merit of any incident and there is a formal procedure for filing these reports.

“This piece of paper did no such thing so that tells you a lot about its value. Any CEO of substance would insist on something like this being tested and true before it passed his desk.

“Unfortunately this isn’t the first time we’ve witnessed this type of nonsense but hopefully its the last and the Ministry will issue an appropriate advice to the occupants to display some professionalism within their own organisations.

“On a brighter note we have been assigned some hangar space of our own – dreadfully run down by its previous occupant but we will work at it and intend to restore the area to the condition it used to be in some 30 or 40 years ago.”

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