RICH INTERNATIONAL Airways has become the latest US carrier to be grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration after a safety audit uncovered alleged deficiencies in crew training and maintenance.

The emergency suspension was ordered after an inspection prompted by allegations that the Miami-based operator did not meet training and maintenance standards.

FAA inspectors uncovered incomplete records and questioned the airline's ability to monitor day-to-day operations. The privately owned charter airline operates a fleet of 16 Lockheed L-1011 TriStars and five McDonnell Douglas DC-8s.

Rich was among a host of US charter and scheduled air carriers, awarded $761 million in contracts, to transport US military personnel, and equipment during fiscal years 1996 and 1997.

Source: Flight International