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Thu, Jan 15, 2009

FAA Grounds Convair Operator Air Tahoma

Emergency Order Of Revocation Comes Following September Accident

Aero-News has confirmed with an FAA representative that the agency has issued an emergency order of revocation against Air Tahoma, ordering the Columbus, OH-based air cargo transport operator to surrender its operating certificate.

Paul Turk, a senior public affairs official with the agency, tells Aero-News the FAA has charged Air Tahoma with 30 safety-related violations... which were "systemic throughout the company" and "not tied to a single pilot, aircraft or incident." The charges were outlined in a 96-page letter delivered to the company Wednesday.

Turk states the charges stem from an FAA audit launched in the aftermath of a fatal September 2008 crash of an Air Tahoma aircraft. As ANN reported, the Convair 580 crashed shortly after takeoff on a crew training flight from Rickenbacker Airport (LCK). The aircraft was returning to the airport when it impacted terrain one mile from the runway.

All three people onboard were killed in the crash, which occurred during the plane's first flight following a maintenance "C" check. According to the National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary report on the accident, that check included re-rigging of the aircraft's flight control cables.

Turk says the FAA audit "found problems in most areas" of the company's operations, including lack of proper emergency equipment, and failure to properly document maintenance processes and parts swaps between aircraft.

The emergency order allows Air Tahoma to file an appeal, though there's no word yet on whether the company will do so. A call to Air Tahoma's headquarters was transferred to company president Noel Rude's voicemail.

Air Tahoma began operations in 1996. The carrier, which operates primarily 1950s-era Convair turboprops, flies regional freight for FedEx.

FMI: www.faa.gov, www.airtahoma.com (site offline at this writing)

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