ValuJet grounded

Low-fare airline agrees to temporarily halt operations in wake of Everglades crash

Valujet grounded

June 17, 1996
Web posted at: 8:00 p.m. EDT

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Federal Aviation Administration administrator David Hinson announced Monday that ValuJet had agreed to a temporary halt in operations until "serious deficiencies" in the low-fare carrier's operations were corrected.

Hinson said that the FAA expanded an ongoing review of the Atlanta-based carrier's operations the day after the May 11 crash of a ValuJet DC-9 in the Florida Everglades that killed all 110 people on board.

"The agency's 30-day intensive inspection found several serious deficiencies in ValuJet's operation," Hinson said.

Those deficiencies included a failure to establish the air- worthiness of some of ValuJet's airliners, deficiencies in the carrier's maintenance program, shortcomings in quality assurance of ValuJet's maintenance contractors, and a strong weakness in engineering capability in the carrier's maintenance support organization.


"The airline has not demonstrated that it has an effective maintenance control system," Hinson said. "Therefore, the airline has agreed to halt voluntarily its operations until such time it demonstrates appropriate corrective action." (704K AIFF or WAV sound)

The airline's grounding was scheduled to begin at midnight EDT Monday. Hinson said that the FAA had put in writing a set of issues that ValuJet must satisfy in order to be allowed into the air again. (218K AIFF or WAV sound)

Acknowledging that suspension of ValuJet's operations would inconvenience air travelers who have tickets on the airline, Hinson said that the FAA's main concern was safety.

Hinson also said that the FAA was aware of problems with the airline since last year, and had instituted a review of the carrier at that time. The May 11 crash spurred the agency to intensify their review of ValuJet's operations.

The cause of the May 11 crash is still under investigation, but authorities suspect that oxygen canisters transported in the jet's cargo hold may have caught fire.

Asked about FAA declarations following the Everglades crash that ValuJet was safe, Hinson said that the statements were "based on evidence at the time," and the intensive review had revealed more serious problems.

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