Bolivia grounds Aerosur and LAB aircraft over safety concerns

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The Bolivian government has grounded two Aerosur Boeing 727-200s after a routine inspection detected technical failures.

Bolivian authorities have also grounded the only aircraft, also a 727-200, owned by LAB, which is in the process of liquidating.

A Bolivian civil aviation authority source confirms the grounding, saying that the aircraft will be "released for service as soon as the operators prove that the shortcomings have been fixed".

An Aerosur spokesman tells ATI that both aircraft had already been grounded by the airline itself several days before the official inspection, dismissing the government's decision as "aimed at discrediting Aerosur to benefit [state owned carrier] Boliviana de Aviación".

The government put Aerosur under special technical and operational surveillance in February after a nearly 30 year old Boeing 727-200, CP-2498 [one of the aircraft grounded again this week], operating Aerosur flight 557 from Santa Cruz to Miami suffered multiple system failures while overflying Northern Bolivia, forcing it to perform an emergency landing.

After determining the Aerosur incident was the latest of 18 727-related incidents in six months, the Bolivian government decided to ban from 2011 all aircraft older than 25 years from operating scheduled commercial passenger flights.

The mandatory retirement of all passenger aircraft built before 1986 in 2011 will affect Aerosur the most. Its fleet includes 10 Boeing 727 aircraft, six of which are already grounded. Aerosur also operates four Boeing 737-200s and a 767-200ER built in 1984, which is normally used for flights to Miami.

An Aerosur spokesman says that the company "is already immersed in a major fleet rollover to Boeing 737-300 and -400 aircraft". Currently the airline operates a single 737-300.