Mon, Jan 05, 2004
Aircraft Banned In Switzerland As "Danger To Aviation
The Egyptian charter
company whose 737-300 crashed into the Red Sea Saturday had been
banned from Switzerland because it was, in the words of Swiss
officials, "a danger to aviation security."
"If a company is forbidden (to use a country's airspace)... that
means the problems are serious," said Celestine Perissinotto, a
spokeswoman for the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Aviation. She
said the ban was instituted after civil aviation officials found a
big difference between maintenance records and a physical
inspection of a Flash aircraft. It's not clear at this point if it
was the same 737 that went down off the Egyptian coast Saturday,
killing all 148 people on board.
"The documents were not the same as the reality of the airplane
that we checked," Perissinotto told Reuters, adding that the papers
had been checked by the Egyptian aviation authorities.
The official news agency MENA said Egyptian Civil Aviation
Minister Ahmed Mohamed Shafiq Zaki denies Swiss authorities had
barred the airline from landing in Switzerland. "He said that
irresponsible statements should not be made in such circumstances,"
Asked about the Swiss report, an Egyptian civil aviation
official said: "All aircraft belonging to private companies are
subject to regular inspections according to international rules and
standards, and no plane is allowed to take off until its safety has
But Sunday, French Transport Minister Gilles de Robien told a
television network in his country that Swiss officials expressed
their concerns about Flash Airlines' aircraft. He said French
officials had some of the same reservations, but a 2003 inspection
cleared Flash. "This means that the planes appeared to be in
perfectly good shape," de Robien said.
But Switzerland seemed undaunted by the bill of clean health
from France. "The reaction was insufficient... The company is still
banned from Switzerland," Perissinotto said.
Flash Airlines executives couldn't be reached for comment.
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