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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 June 2007, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK
Airport in need of greater safety
Angry passengers were stranded before the airport's licence was re-instated
Considerable work in a number of areas is required, says inquiry
Considerable work is required to ensure safety management is implemented and maintained at City of Derry Airport, an official inquiry has concluded.

The airport was closed for four days at the end of May when the Civil Aviation Authority suspended its licence because of safety concerns.

It said there had been a systematic failure of safety.

The inquiry said "gaps" were observed at all levels in rectification, reporting and training at the airport.

Last month, hundreds were stranded when the airport was closed on a bank holiday weekend over the safety concerns.

In his report published on Thursday, aviation expert Peter Hampson said some staff believed their competence for the number and variety of tasks they undertook was often insufficient due to minimal training.

Most staff were required to "multi-task", with the Fire Service performing the majority of functions - including baggage handling, bird control, aircraft marshalling, aerodrome inspections and aircraft fuelling.

'Root and branch'

Mr Hampson said efforts to rectify the shortcomings at the airport should "continue without delay".

A comprehensive training programme for all staff should be implemented, as well as improved communications, he said.

"The airport operator should now give immediate consideration to a review of the operational structure, allocation of duties and communications at all levels to ensure that the resources, policies, procedures and safety management system in place at CODA (City of Derry Airport) accurately reflect the scale and frequency of operations taking place."

He added: "It is acknowledged by all parties that considerable work in a number of areas is required to ensure an appropriate and robust safety management system is fully implemented and maintained at City of Derry Airport."

However, the inquiry author said the prompt response by Derry City Council and the airport management team to address some of the issues raised following the withdrawal of the license had been acknowledged by the CAA as commendable.

Responding to the inquiry, members of the council's airport committee said it had been a difficult period for everyone involved and reiterated "the importance of establishing the full facts".

An agreed resolution on Thursday said it had commissioned "a root and branch examination of the safety management systems".

"In the interim, we have demanded that all information is brought to City of Derry Airport Committee and we will be appointing a safety assurance officer who will report directly to this committee," said the council.

Mike McKimm reports on the inquiry's findings

Audit plan after airport closure
25 May 07 |  Northern Ireland
Airport shut over safety concerns
24 May 07 |  Northern Ireland
Concerns over Derry airport
21 Aug 00 |  Northern Ireland

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