Claims of maintenance and safety issues at Regional Express (Rex) are unfounded, according to the federal government's airline safety regulator.
After a month-long investigation, and following a week of widespread media scrutiny, on Saturday, July 6 the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) confirmed it had no issues with the safety of the company's aircraft.
Its investigation began after a complaint by the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers' Association (ALAEA) to CASA in May alleged maintenance issues at the airline, including eight examples of what it considered to be "serious non-compliance" involving former and current employees over several years.
Earlier this month Rex's chief operating officer Neville Howell claimed the accusations had been raised by "a disgruntled engineer and his union, first to the Fair Work Commission and then to CASA".
READ MORE: Safety culture not lacking, says Rex
In its statement clearing the company on the weekend, CASA said it had conducted a two-day audit of the Rex Wagga maintenance facility earlier this month.
It said all management and staff spoken to felt confident in reporting maintenance errors or defects and they indicated the company operated according to the "just culture" principles.
"CASA will carefully assess the information obtained in the course of the audit against the requirements of the applicable civil aviation legislation," it reads.
"Although it normally takes up to 21 days to finalise an audit report of this kind, CASA is expediting the completion of this report."
The authority also examined a video that purported to show rust on the propeller shaft of an aircraft owned by the airline, but CASA said on the basis of an assessment of information provided by Rex it had no concerns about the airworthiness of the aircraft.
In a media release, Rex welcomed the all-clear.
It said even though CASA had acknowledged the "effectiveness and high standards" of its safety management system and safety culture after auditing Rex five times since February 2018, the authority had to be given credit for the effort and resources used to examine the recent allegations.
"CASA conducted their investigations in a prompt, comprehensive and responsible manner that should leave no doubt with regard to the safety of Rex flights in the minds of regional passengers, many of whom depend exclusively on Rex for their medical, educational and professional travelling needs," it said.
Rex also criticised some media outlets for "malicious attacks on its airline safety record".
"Not only could such disgraceful acts be capable of seriously damaging Rex but it could also result in, if Rex had been forced to cease flying, many remote and rural regional communities permanently losing air services that are critical for their socio-economic needs," it reads.