CASA grounds Tiger Airways Australia

July 2, 2011


The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has suspended the operations of Tiger Airways Australia Pty Ltd with immediate effect from Saturday 2 July 2011.

This action has been taken because CASA believes permitting the airline to continue to fly poses a serious and imminent risk to air safety. The suspension of Tiger Airways Australia follows the issue of a show cause notice to the airline in March 2011.

Taking Tiger Airways Australia’s response to this show cause notice into account, CASA subsequently imposed a number of conditions on the airline’s air operator’s certificate. These conditions required actions to improve the proficiency of Tiger Airways Australia’s pilots, improvements to pilot training and checking processes, changes to fatigue management, improvements to maintenance control and ongoing airworthiness systems and ensuring appropriately qualified people fill management and operational positions.

CASA has been closely monitoring the operations of Tiger Airways Australia throughout 2011, with surveillance undertaken at a range of locations. Since Tiger Airways Australia was served the show cause notice there have been further events raising concerns about the airline’s ability to continue to conduct operations safely. In the circumstances, CASA no longer has confidence in the ability of Tiger Airways Australia to satisfactorily address the safety issues that have been identified.

The suspension is in force immediately for an initial five working days, during which time CASA must apply to the Federal Court for an extension of the grounding. If the Federal Court supports CASA’s application the court can continue the suspension for a period of time which will allow CASA to finalise investigations into the safety matters.

Tiger Airways Australia is a low cost airline which commenced services in the Australian domestic airline market on 23 November 2007. It is a subsidiary of Tiger Airways Holdings, a Singapore-based company, which is owned partially by Singapore Airlines. The main base is at Melbourne Airport. The airline operates a fleet of ten Airbus A320 aircraft.

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FAA proposes $1.05 Million civil penalty against the Boeing Company

June 27, 2011

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $1,050,000 civil penalty against the Boeing Company for allegedly failing to correct a known problem in production and installation of the central passenger oxygen system in its Boeing 777 airliners.

The FAA based its proposed civil penalty on inspections of nine newly assembled aircraft between April and October, 2010. Inspectors discovered that spacers in the oxygen delivery system distribution tubing on the aircraft were not installed correctly. Improper installation could result in the system not supplying oxygen to passengers should depressurization occur.

Boeing has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.


FAA proposes $250,000 civil penalty against AirTran Airways

June 23, 2011

 The U.S.Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $250,000 civil penalty against AirTran Airways of Orlando, Fla., for allegedly operating a Boeing 737 on four passenger flights when it was not in compliance with FAA regulations.

The FAA alleges Air Tran did not properly repair or test an angle-of-attack sensor on the aircraft, which warns if there is a potential loss of lift, after it was struck by lightning during a flight on March 20, 2009.  The FAA also alleges the airline misused the Minimum Equipment List (MEL) when it decided to defer the repair and continued to operate the aircraft.  The MEL sets out a list of what systems must be in working order to fly the plane legally and which items can be deferred temporarily until repairs can be made.  Repair or maintenance of a damaged or inoperative angle-of-attack sensor may not be deferred.

AirTran has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.


FAA proposes $584,375 civil penalty against United Airlines

June 17, 2011

 The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed to assess a $584,375 civil penalty against United Airlines, Inc, for allegedly violating FAA and U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) regulations for random drug and alcohol testing of safety-sensitive employees.

The FAA alleges United failed to perform required pre-employment drug tests and receive verified negative test results before transferring 13 individuals to safety-sensitive positions, as required by FAA and DoT regulations.

The FAA also cited United for allegedly failing to use a scientifically valid method to ensure that each member of the company’s flight crews, all of whom are safety-sensitive employees, has an equal chance of being selected for random drug and alcohol testing each time a selection is made. The FAA warned United at least twice before that the company’s random test selection methods did not give each eligible flight crew member an equal chance of being selected.

United Airlines has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.


FAA proposes $425,000 civil penalty against Atlantic Southeast Airlines

June 16, 2011

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $425,000 civil penalty against Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA), of Atlanta, for allegedly operating two Bombardier CRJ regional jet airliners when they were not in compliance with FAA regulations.

The FAA alleges that ASA, a subsidiary of SkyWest, Inc. and flying as Delta Connection, failed to complete required inspections of the two aircraft after they were struck by lightning. One strike took place on July 21, 2008 and the other on July 23, 2008.

The FAA alleges that ASA operated the two aircraft on a total of 13 revenue passenger flights between July 22 and 24 when they were not in compliance with regulations. FAA regulations require the carrier to conduct and document the detailed check for lightning strike damage mandated in the airline’s aircraft maintenance manual. An FAA air safety inspector discovered both alleged violations.

Atlantic Southeast has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.


FAA to impose civil penalties for pointing lasers into cockpits

June 1, 2011

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that they will begin to impose civil penalties against people who point a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft.

The FAA released a legal interpretation, which finds that directing a laser beam into an aircraft cockpit could interfere with a flight crew performing its duties while operating an aircraft, a violation of Federal Aviation Regulations. In the past, the FAA has taken enforcement action under this regulation against passengers physically on-board an aircraft who interfere with crewmembers.

Today’s interpretation reflects the fact that pointing a laser at an aircraft from the ground could seriously impair a pilot’s vision and interfere with the flight crew’s ability to safely handle its responsibilities.

The maximum civil penalty the FAA can impose on an individual for violating the FAA’s regulations that prohibit interfering with a flight crew is $11,000 per violation.

This year, pilots have reported more than 1,100 incidents nationwide of lasers being pointed at aircraft. Laser event reports have steadily increased since the FAA created a formal reporting system in 2005 to collect information from pilots. Reports rose from nearly 300 in 2005 to 1,527 in 2009 and 2,836 in 2010.

In 2010, Los Angeles International Airport recorded the highest number of laser events in the country for an individual airport with 102 reports, and the greater Los Angeles area tallied nearly twice that number, with 201 reports. Chicago O’Hare International Airport was a close second, with 98 reports, and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport tied for the third highest number of laser events for the year with 80 each.

So far this year, the Phoenix and Dallas-Fort Worth areas each have recorded more than 45 laser events. The Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Houston areas each have recorded more than 30 laser events.

The increase in reports is likely due to a number of factors, including greater awareness and outreach to pilots to encourage reporting; the availability of inexpensive laser devices on the Internet; stronger power levels that enable lasers to hit aircraft at higher altitudes; and the introduction of green lasers, which are more easily seen than red lasers.

Some cities and states have laws making it illegal to shine lasers at aircraft and, in many cases, people can face federal charges. The FAA is prepared to work with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to assist with criminal prosecutions arising under those laws.

Legislation that would criminalize purposefully aiming a laser device at an aircraft is currently pending in Congress. The Senate included this language in the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act, which it passed on Feb. 17, 2011. On Feb. 28, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would enact a similar penalty for shining lasers at aircraft. Both bills are awaiting further action


CAA-NZ lays charges against airline pilot for unnecessary endangerment

April 18, 2011

The New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has laid charges against a the pilot-in-command of Pacific Blue flight 89 from Queenstown to Sydney in 2010.

Two charges have been laid under the Civil Aviation Act, including one under s44 for causing unnecessary endangerment. The action is the result of an extensive investigation by the CAA into the departure of a Boeing 737-800 aircraft from Queenstown on 22 June 2010.

The airline has not been charged. “I am satisfied that Pacific Blue had the appropriate procedures in place for operations conducted at Queenstown”, said Steve Douglas, Director of Civil Aviation. “The investigation concluded that the airline’s procedures and operating conditions were breached in this take off event in June 2010, and that safety was compromised as a result.”

Pacific Blue said its internal procedure states aircraft at Queenstown should take off no later than 30 minutes before evening twilight. It said on this occasion the plane took off about 26 minutes before twilight. “After take-off the aircraft climbed at a safe and legal height in accordance with the weather conditions at the time and followed the prescribed visual departure procedure to continue its course to Sydney,” Pacific Blue said in a statement in 2010.

The matter is now sub judice and will be heard in the Queenstown District Court.

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FAA proposes $350,000 civil penalty against Lynx Aviation

April 8, 2011

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $350,000 civil penalty against Lynx Aviation of Westminster, Colo., for allegedly operating a Bombardier DHC-8-400 twin turbo-prop aircraft when it was not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations.

The FAA alleges that Lynx, a subsidiary of Republic Holdings, failed to complete and document required inspections after company mechanics replaced an engine hydraulic pump on April 17, 2010.  The company’s general maintenance manual mandates completion of a post-maintenance inspection and documentation of that inspection before the aircraft is returned to commercial service.

The FAA alleges that Lynx operated the aircraft on 177 revenue passenger flights between the date of the work and May 26, 2010, when an FAA air safety inspector discovered the alleged violations. The FAA alleges the airline had four opportunities to detect the missing inspection report and conduct and document the required inspection,  but failed to catch the problem through its own safety processes.

Lynx has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.

FAA proposes $550,000 civil penalty against Executive Airlines

March 30, 2011

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is proposing a $550,000 civil penalty against Executive Airlines, Inc., of San Juan, P.R., for allegedly operating two ATR-72 twin turboprop planes when they were not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations.

The FAA alleges Executive Airlines, a subsidiary of AMR Corporation, failed to complete required periodic, time-specific inspections of the aileron control systems of two aircraft, as ordered by an FAA Airworthiness Directive. Compliance with those directives is mandatory.

The FAA alleges that Executive Airlines operated the two aircraft when they were not in compliance with regulations on at least 35 revenue flights between June 13 and June 19, 2009, because the airline exceeded the mandated number of flight hours for a re-inspection.

Executive Airlines has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.

NTSB investigating incident involving ATC request for a commercial plane to fly near non-responsive airplane

March 30, 2011

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating an incident involving a Southwest Airlines airplane that was requested to veer off course by Air Traffic Control to view into the cockpit of a general aviation airplane that had been out of radio communication.

On Sunday, March 27, 2011, Southwest Airlines flight 821 – a Boeing 737 – was requested by Central Florida Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) to check on a Cirrus SR22 that had been out of radio contact for an hour. The TRACON vectored the Southwest Airlines commercial flight until visual contact was obtained with the Cirrus. The Southwest pilots reported seeing two people in the cockpit.  The Southwest flight turned away and the air traffic controller then vectored the aircraft for its arrival at Orlando International Airport.  Approximately thirty seconds later the Cirrus contacted Jacksonville Center who gave them the current frequency. Both aircraft landed safely at their destinations.

In a statement, the FAA reported that preliminary information indicated that there was a loss of required separation between the two aircraft. The FAA has suspended the air traffic controller, who is a supervisor.

“By placing this passenger aircraft in close proximity to another plane, the air traffic controller compromised the safety of everyone involved. This incident was totally inappropriate,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.  “We are reviewing the air traffic procedures used here and making sure everyone understands the protocols for contacting unresponsive aircraft.”

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