Transport Canada has fined Air Transat $250,000 stemming from maintenance infractions related to the Air Transat aircraft involved in the August 24, 2001, emergency landing in the Azores.
The infractions resulted from the release of the aircraft back into service without having the maintenance completed in accordance with required procedures.
As a precautionary measure, Transport Canada is also limiting Air Transat’s Extended Range Twin Engine Operations for all aircraft, effective immediately. The new limits require all Air Transat twin engine aircraft to remain within a maximum of 90 minutes of suitable en-route airports between the point of departure and the destination – the limit normally granted to entry-level air operators. Affected aircraft in the Air Transat fleet now include Airbus A310s and Boeing 757s.
This latest measure does not alter the current limits placed on Air Transat’s Airbus A330 aircraft which require them to remain within 60 minutes of suitable airports until refresher training sessions on extended range operations are completed. Once training is completed, the airline’s Airbus A330 aircraft will also be moved to the 90-minute limit.
Air Transat has acknowledged that mechanics didn’t follow recommended procedures when they replaced a jet engine that later ran out of fuel in the middle of the Atlantic.
AirTransat spokeswoman Seychelle Harding said the engine was replaced using a component from a newer engine.
The engine’s manufacturer, Rolls Royce, had recommended in a service bulleting that the parts not be swapped. The replacement engine on the Airbus A330 was missing a hydraulic pump, Harding said, and mechanics used a pump from a newer engine.
Air Transat completed the engine replacement at its Montreal maintenance centre five days before the aircraft carrying 304 people to Lisbon from Toronto ran out of fuel and managed to glide safely to an island airstrip.
An international investigation into the near-disaster is now centered in Montreal as officials from the Transportation Safety Board begin to interview Air Transat personnel. However, the results of the interviews won’t be made public information.
The Canadian safety board is assisting the Portuguese accident board, which is responsible for the investigation under international protocol since the plane landed on Portuguese territory, the Azores Islands.
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