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Wed, Apr 16, 2008

Regional Carrier Latest To Cancel Flights For Inspections

Trans States Airlines Grounds ERJ-145s

A small regional operator appears to be the latest airline to have its operations negatively impacted by the FAA's renewed interest in monitoring safety records. Trans States Airlines, which flies 50-seat Embraer regional jets under the AmericanConnection, US Airways Express, and United Express banners, grounded 24 planes overnight Wednesday.

Passengers began feeling the impact of those inspections Tuesday night, as customer service personnel at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport worked to find seats for passengers before the grounding went into effect. But some weren't so lucky.

"They announced on our flight from Tampa that we'd be at Gate C17, but when we got off the plane, the board says it's canceled," said passenger C.J. Holmes, who was trying to get home to Indianapolis through STL. Instead, Holmes and a business colleague spent the night in a St. Louis hotel, on the airline's nickel.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports 10 American Connection and one United departure from STL had been cancelled as of 0400 Wednesday morning. The airline hoped to have its planes back in service early Wednesday morning, though Trans States spokesman Bill Mishk acknowledged "there's a likelihood" more flights would be impacted.

An internal audit of Trans States' records found discrepancies in checks of nosewheel steering systems on its ERJ-145s, Mishk said. "This does not involve the safety of flights," he added.



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