After weathering a three-week voluntary grounding stemming from a maintenance issue late last year, operations at Piaggio Avanti fractional provider Avantair have been pretty much normal. That is until last Thursday, when an anonymous call to the Clearwater, Fla.-based company’s whistleblower hotline initiated the grounding of its fleet again.
During last year’s grounding, Avantair committed to implement “industry-leading safety and maintenance programs” similar to those at major airlines. This includes self audits, one of which is a continual audit of time-controlled parts that must be inspected and/or replaced after a certain number of hours in service. Avantair was actively engaged in such an audit when it received the hotline call questioning the adequacy of its system for monitoring these time-controlled parts.
“Though we did not give credence to this call, our substantial internal operating procedures mandated that we take immediate action to fully investigate the concern,” Avantair CEO Steven Santo told AIN. “Since more than 100 parts on each of our aircraft are time-controlled, the only way to do this in a timely manner was to perform inspections and check our entire fleet. We are now in the midst of doing so.”
Santo said the company’s focus on safety “is unending and unwavering.” Despite past challenges, he said, “We will not be deterred in our efforts to operate Avantair as the safest carrier in the industry. Our owners and cardholders have demonstrated considerable patience and support for our safety programs.”
Avantair anticipates that it will begin release of aircraft back into service on a continual basis this week, following the completion of these inspections. One of Avantair’s airplanes, N140SL, was already airborne at press time.