Aircraft Engineers International (AEI) has blamed growing pressure to reduce costs for deliberate regulatory breaches by airlines, which have become the single largest cause for the deterioration of aviation safety.

The issue of pilots not reporting aircraft defects as they occur, but rather when was convenient for the airline, was also confirmed by both European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft programme.

AEI secretary general Fred Bruggeman said that with everybody currently suffering the effects of a global financial meltdown, investment in maintenance and safety has also been targeted for savings and this was completely unacceptable.

The association said that it was also concerned about the rapid increase in the abuse of the aircraft minimum equipment list, which contains information on which aircraft systems may be unserviceable for flight.

Airlines are allowing continued operation of aircraft with improperly diagnosed faults, and AEI believes that this was one of the causal factors in both the recent Spanair and Turkish Airlines accidents.

The engineering community has urged the national aviation regulators to take a more active role to stop appeasing operator’s demands for lighter regulation and move away from paper auditing.