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Mon, Jun 02, 2008

Scottish LCC Flyglobespan Faces Criminal Charges

Accused Of Operating Three Planes In Unsafe Manner

A British budget carrier faces criminal prosecution for numerous safety breaches, including two alleged trans-Atlantic trips from the US and back using an airliner with faulty instruments.

According to The Sunday Times, Flyglobespan is accused of operating a Boeing 757 last year from New York to Liverpool, Ireland even after both the aircraft's engine pressure ratio gauges failed on takeoff. The pilot did not report the issue until the airliner reached Liverpool.

SOP calls for at least one of those gauges to be operational. Not only did the 200-passenger airliner complete the June 28 flight to Ireland, however... but Flyglobespan then allegedly dispatched the plane back to New York with the inoperative equipment.

The airliner was later grounded at JFK International while the gauges were repaired. Flyglobespan should have reported the problem to the CAA within four days... but the problem did not come to light until the FAA reported the issue to British authorities nearly three months later.

Former pilot Graham Sturrock, who now advises airlines, told the Times the gauges are on the minimum equipment list for the 757 to fly with passengers onboard. "It also increases the pilot’s workload and the chance of pilot error" when the gauges are nonfunctional, he said.

Two managers were replaced following the incident, the Times adds... but Flyglobespan, which flies over two million passengers annually to 30 destinations, is also accused of operating two other aircraft without proper authorization to return the planes -- one of which suffered a lightning strike, the other victim of a ground vehicle collision -- to revenue service.

The Scottish carrier has also suffered a spate of operational breakdowns. As ANN reported, in July 2007 some Flyglobespan passengers were stranded at JFK as long as one week, after the plane they were due to return to Ireland on was grounded. A replacement aircraft was stranded in Glasgow following an attempted terrorist attack on that airport's terminal.

The CAA suspended the airline's ETOPS certification for two weeks last October due to undisclosed problems. In January 2008, an engine caught fire on a Flyglobespan plane that had departed from Orlando, FL.

Last week, the carrier was served three summons to appear before City of Westminster magistrates in July on criminal charges... the first time a Brisith airline has faced such charges in over a decade. Investigators are particularly worried the incidents are indications Flyglobespan -- and other budget carriers -- may be foregoing maintenance to offset high fuel prices.

If convicted of any one of the charges of endangering an aircraft and its passengers, Flyglobespan faces an unlimited fine.

FMI: www.flyglobespan.com

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