The Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia (CASA) suspended regional charter operator Barrier Aviation following a “comprehensive investigation of a wide range of critical safety issues relating to aircraft maintenance.”

CASA said the investigation found that “Barrier flew aircraft with major defects, and in some cases multiple major defects existed on the same aircraft for some time,” and claimed that Barrier did not ground un-airworthy aircraft with defects including undercarriage faults, instruments such as fuel gauges not working properly, engine oil leaks, smoke in a cockpit, engine surging, trim control problems and a faulty stall warning.

“CASA has evidence of defects recurring between 2009 and 2012, along with non-compliant behavior by Barrier Aviation,” CASA said. “Barrier Aviation has not learned from past problems and has not demonstrated a willingness or ability to meet the required safety standards.

The Cairns-based charter operator disputes the charges and has sought review of the decision in the Australia administrative appeals tribunal.

“Clearly we are very disappointed by CASA’s latest action,” Barrier Aviation MD David Kilin said. “I would like to make it very clear that at no stage has CASA entered into any meaningful or productive discussion about how to resolve any perceived issues. We have continually asked what do they want us to do, but that has not been forthcoming at any stage. It is ludicrous to think that Barrier Aviation would want anything but safe planes and practices for our staff and our passengers … Every year we have tens of thousands of flights conducted without a single passenger harmed in any way … At this stage the future of Barrier is uncertain.”