Monday, September 11, 2006
FAA Orders Emergency Inspections on Beech 1900
By the time the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued its grounding order on the Beech 1900 series aircraft, operators had already conducted inspections and found little or nothing to report. The Sept. 1 order requiring emergency inspections of the aircraft was prompted by Air Midwest's discovery of wing cracks on two 1900s during routine maintenance. The inspections of the wing spars must be done before the aircraft can resume flying.
"Thankfully, that area is easy to inspect," said Dave Carter of Raytheon's Regional Airline Aviation Services (RAAS), which issued a note to operators the day before the Airworthiness Directive went out. "All you have to do is lower the flaps and there it is." Carter noted that in addition to the two Air Midwest aircraft, Skyways found cracks on two of its nine aircraft and RAAS has already received approval for its repair plans, although it did not know how much such repairs would cost. Carter also indicated that there was no loss of service on the aircraft.
There are about 250 of the aircraft in service in North America, including Air Midwest, a subsidiary of Mesa Air Group (MESA), Central Mountain Air and Great Lakes Aviation (GLUX). Air Midwest and Great Lakes are the two largest providers of essential air service. Air Midwest notified Great Lakes, because the cracks would have affected their route swaps. Great Lakes' Doug Voss indicated his airline was aware of the problem and had developed an inspection plan for its 25 1900Ds on August 24.
British Columbia-based Central Mountain Air had already completed the inspection of its 15 1900Ds and three 1900Cs, operated by its sister company Northern Thunderbird Aviation, with no findings, according to Spokesperson Doug McCrea. In addition to providing charter and scheduled service, the airline provides feeder service for Air Canada (ACE). Other operators include cargo operator Ameriflight with 20, Big Sky with 10, Colgan with 11, Commutair with 15, Frontier Flying Service with nine, and Gulfstream International Airlines with 27. In addition to Central Mountain Air, Canadian operators include Air Georgian with 20. There are 55 aircraft operating internationally. Data gained from the inspections will determine whether additional steps are required.