America West Airlines says its maintenance records and record-keeping procedures are now up to US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards.

A recent special audit of the airline's maintenance system revealed problems that had threatened to shut down the nation's ninth largest air carrier (Flight International, 5-11 September).

The Phoenix-based airline had seven days from 25 August to demonstrate to the FAA's satisfaction the compliance of its Boeing 737s and 757s with applicable airworthiness directives.

America West has also been instructed by the FAA to present within a month a plan specifying proposals for changing its maintenance programme and correcting deficiencies. Failure to maintain the required standards had earlier brought a sharp response from David Gilliom, the FAA's flight standards division manager saying: "Failure to commit to and completely execute corrective actions could result in FAA amending America West's operations specifications or taking other appropriate remedies."

The US aviation agency expressed "serious concerns" about America West's "compromised" maintenance programme, especially the carrier's records and record-keeping procedures.

The FAA took exception to the airline's maintenance monitoring and corrective actions. "Symptoms of these deficiencies are poorly audited heavy maintenance performed by contract vendors-and maintenance deferrals which result from repetitive aircraft malfunctions."

America West reduced its flight schedule last month and announced an intention to invest further in maintenance operations in an effort to improve poor reliability and timekeeping. The airline and eight other major US carriers underwent audits that were prompted by the crash of an Alaska Air Boeing MD-80 in January.

Source: Flight International