Sat, May 17, 2008
Says Better Grasp Of AD Compliance Needed
Airlines, aircraft manufacturers and the federal government
should review current procedures to avoid the kind of massive
abrupt flight cancellations that left hundreds of thousands of
passengers stranded this April, US Secretary of Transportation Mary
E. Peters opined Friday.
Citing lessons learned from reports submitted by the Federal
Aviation Administration and American Airlines in response to last
month’s massive grounding of hundreds of MD-80 aircraft --
groundings many feel were an overreaction on the part of the FAA --
Peters (right) called on the FAA and airlines to better ensure
mutual understanding of what constitutes compliance with an
Peters added the FAA and airlines need to review and improve
procedures for understanding the process, timing and criteria for
requesting and approving Alternate Means of Compliance. The
Secretary also called on airlines and the FAA to review existing
protocols for communications to make sure that significant safety
decisions are made using a clearly documented process.
"When situations of this magnitude evolve, it is critical that
all parties have the right information so the right decisions can
be made," Peters noted. She said the reports make clear that the
FAA is the ultimate arbiter of what constitutes a safety of flight
issue and that safety deadlines must always be met on time.
"It’s important to note that both American and the FAA agree
when it comes to aviation safety, there are no soft deadlines."
As ANN reported, over 3,300
American Airlines flights were cancelled in April after the FAA
mandated checks of wiring bundles inside the main gear wells of the
carrier's 300-plane fleet of McDonnell-Douglas MD-82s and MD-83s.
Those groundings came after FAA inspectors found several planes out
of compliance with the 2006 Airworthiness Directive mandating a
1.25-inch clearance between the wires and adjoining components.
Inspectors reportedly found bundles bound tighter than that spec
-- about a one-inch clearance -- on several of American's MD-80s.
That relatively minor difference has many questioning whether the
FAA's strict response wasn't politically-minded posturing, in the
wake of earlier revelations of missed fatigue inspections at
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