VALUJET AIRLINES hopes to win the US Federal Aviation Administration's approval to resume service as early as the first week of August.

It has submitted a plan to the FAA's Atlanta, Georgia, regional office describing how the grounded low-fare carrier would resume flights with about 15 aircraft. More aircraft would join the fleet later as service builds to additional cities.

The airline was grounded for safety reasons by the FAA in late June. The move followed an intensive investigation of the carrier's operations before and after the 11 May McDonnell Douglas (MDC) DC-9 crash in Florida.

ValuJet's plan also details how the airline will audit outside maintenance contractors and how operating manuals have been standardised. The aircraft it plans to fly will be re-inspected. Training for main- tenance and other airline personnel has been enhanced and surveillance of heavy-maintenance workers has also intensified.

ValuJet has trimmed the number of outside maintenance vendors, and is shifting towards internal maintenance management and supervision. A senior vice-president for maintenance and engineering, reporting directly to Lewis Jordan, ValuJet's president, has been hired.

Jim Jensen, a long-time TWA maintenance executive, will supervise the airline's day-to-day aircraft and powerplant maintenance, engineering and quality control. He will work closely with J B Davis, recently hired as ValuJet's "safety czar."

Most recently, he served as vice-president of product support for MDC's Douglas Aircraft division, where he was responsible for after-delivery support of MDC aircraft, which ValuJet operates exclusively.

The cost of appeasing the FAA is said to be "manageable", and ValuJet says that it expects to recover the outlay. "We can regain a significant cost advantage while continuing to offer low fares..In fact, we expect to achieve certain additional efficiencies as a result of the increased oversight," says ValuJet.

Source: Flight International