St. Petersburg, Fla.-based fractional provider Avantair restarted operations on Friday following a nearly three-week voluntary grounding of its approximately 60 Piaggio Avantis. “We’re back and flying, and are covering all our trips now,” Avantair CEO Steve Santo told AIN yesterday.
The voluntary grounding was precipitated by a July incident in which an Avantair-operated Avanti shed an elevator in flight. As the subsequent NTSB investigation closed in on the elevator hardware–also the subject of a previous Airworthiness Directive–Avantair “decided in the caution of safety to voluntarily ground the fleet” on October 10 and recheck the elevator hardware on each aircraft, as well as all maintenance documentation.
As it began standing up the fleet a few days later, the NTSB lead investigator then raised a red flag about the locking ability of reused lock nuts, which was permitted when the AD work was performed. At that point, Santo said he decided to reground the entire fleet, replace all of the locking nuts on the fleet’s elevators and investigate if any other similar hardware was reused during previous maintenance events. “We decided to do what was right,” he said, “even if it caused more delays.”
Avantair is also voluntarily raising its safety standards to include Part 121-style operations and maintenance safety programs, as well as a safety management system, Santo added.