VALUJET AIRLINES is trying to sell or lease the bulk of its McDonnell Douglas DC-9s and MD-80s. The low-cost carrier was operating 51 aircraft when it was grounded on 17 June, but plans to resume service by mid-August with a maximum of 15 DC-9-32s.

The airline plans to keep additional aircraft in storage, or on short-term lease to other carriers, as a reserve. The remainder will be sold or leased. The airline owns 43 DC-9-32s (of which 18 are hushkitted), four DC-9-21s and four MD-80s. ValuJet says that it will no longer accept delivery of additional aircraft which it had previously agreed to acquire.

The carrier has filed its plan with the US Federal Aviation Administration to restart operations by the middle of this month, including details of how it will audit outside maintenance contractors. Heavy maintenance has been consolidated at Aerocorp and Zantop, while negotiations continue with Air Canada and others to provide maintenance support.

Another of the US start-ups reined back by FAA safety concerns, Kiwi International, says that it hopes to resume its full flight schedule on 1 October.

Kiwi has been working with FAA inspectors to resolve pilot-training issues which led to the grounding of four of its Boeing 727s and a 25% reduction in flights. The carrier has now been allowed to put two of the Boeing 727s back into service and expects the remaining two to join them this month. The FAA discovered in a two-week inspection that 32 of Kiwi's 277 pilots were not properly certificated because six "check airmen" lacked proper credentials. Pilots and trainers have since been requalified.

Turk Hava Yollari (THY) has been blamed by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for the 8 June, 1995, uncontained engine compressor-disc failure in a ValuJet McDonnell Douglas DC-9 at Miami, Florida. Turkish carrier THY was the approved maintenance organisation which failed to detect a compressor-disc crack when it was carrying out contract maintenance for ValuJet on the engine, says the NTSB. It accuses THY of "lacking an adequate" maintenance record-keeping system.

Source: Flight International