FAA shuts down RegionsAir for flaws in training manuals

 - March 26, 2007, 8:25 AM

Smyrna, Tenn.-based RegionsAir had to suspend all service indefinitely on March 9 after the FAA for the second time in a week halted operations for inadequacies in its line check airman and certification program. The action affected all 12 of RegionsAir’s routes, nine of which it flew with 19-seat BAe Jetstream 32s as an American Connection affiliate from St. Louis and the remaining three as a Continental Connection partner from Cleveland.

RegionsAir opened for business again on March 5, three days after the FAA shut it down for a problem with training manuals for flight instructors.
When the airline failed to make the proper changes, the agency closed it down again on March 9.

In February Manassas, Va.-based Colgan Air won the rights to RegionsAir’s three Continental Connection destinations from Cleveland–Williamstown, Morgantown and Clarksburg, W.Va.–and planned to start service by May 1. Billings, Mont.-based Big Sky Airlines last month won its bid to fly to Jackson, Tenn., Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Owensboro, Ky., from Cincinnati starting June 1. RegionsAir flew to those cities as American Connection from St. Louis.

At press time the fate of the other six American Connection destinations, namely Burlington, Iowa; Decatur, Marion, Springfield and Quincy, Ill.; and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; remained unclear.

In late February Sen. Dick Durban (D-Ill.) met with American Eagle CEO Peter Bowler in Dallas to ask him to bid on RegionsAir’s three Illinois EAS destinations–Decatur, Marion and Quincy, all of which come due for contract renewal in July.

A week later he sent letters to the U.S. Department of Transportation and American Airlines to voice concern about its on-time and completion record. DOT statistics for November, December and January showed that RegionsAir canceled 15.6 percent, 27 percent and 15.5 percent of its flights in those respective months.  

“RegionsAir cannot provide even the most basic air service, let alone the reliable service our downstate communities deserve,” he said after last month’s closure.
“The U.S. Department of Transportation, working with the affected communities, has accelerated [its] efforts to find a reliable replacement carrier and will be announcing [its] decision shortly.”

An FAA spokesman wouldn’t go into specific detail about the problems with the manuals, but he indicated that the Nashville FSDO first recognized an anomaly during a routine records check on or near March 2.

After RegionsAir resumed service on March 5, the FAA’s Atlanta district office deemed the changes it made to the manuals insufficient and forced it to sign a consent order to fix the problem within 180 days or risk losing its certificate altogether.

On March 13, RegionsAir president Doug Caldwell declined to comment on the airline’s plans, saying only, “We’re working on it with the FAA and don’t want any speculation in the press.”