Budget carrier FlyGlobeSpan fined for flying defective jet across Atlantic

Thursday, August 7, 2008, 11:48 by Aviation Correspondent

Globespan Airways, a budget airline based in Edinburgh, Scotland, has been fined £5,000 (€6,300) for having allowed a faulty jet to complete a 6,000-mile round trip from New York, the United States, to Liverpool, the United Kingdom, and back across the Atlantic despite knowing  that there was a problem with its engine monitors after it had been struck by lightning. The airline was also ordered to pay £4,280 costs.

The Southwark Crown Court in London, the United Kingdom, was told that Globespan Airways, traded as FlyGlobeSpan, flew the Boeing 757 with 20 passengers on board back across the Atlantic with two engine pressure radio indicators (EPRs) out of action, on June 28, 2007.

The website guardian.co.uk reported that Globespan had used some “optimistic interpretation” of rules to allow takeoff from Liverpool, the United Kingdom, leaving the crew to adjust manually the throttle with the help of another gauge during the 3,000-mile flight.

The failure was first spotted on the outbound flight from John F Kennedy International Airport, New York, but Globespan broke civil aviation rules by  declaring the plane later “serviceable” to fly back across the Atlantic via Knock, in Ireland, the court was told.

The company admitted in the court to having committed offences under Britain’s Air Navigation Order of 2005 of flying a plane without a valid certification of airworthiness or a valid operator’s certificate.

On landing, an investigation carried out by Storm Aviation, Globespan Airways’ contract engineers, could neither identify the cause of the failure nor correct it. Though this was reported to the airline’s flight operations director, he “rather optimistically” interpreted the rules governing equipment, laid down by the Civil Aviation Authority of the United Kingdom, which required all the equipment to be functioning before a plane could depart on a flight.

The flight operations director, the court was told, then told the new pilot who took over the flight that the aircraft complied with the airworthiness certificate.

By heading back across the Atlantic, the plane broke the law. In New York, it was examined again and the problem rectified, but the court was informed that it was  “an important breach.”

Globespan has since replaced the director of engineering and the director of flight operations.

Meanwhile, the British Air Line Pilots Association has alleged that it had been refused talks with Flyglobespan over safety issues after a separate incident in 2007  when the British Civil Aviation Authority had suspended the airline’s licence for direct trans-Atlantic flights. However, officials of Flyglobespan denied the British Air Line Pilots Association’s charge, saying that “the company had not heard from the union after offering to meet.”

Flyglobespan’s problems have prompted passenger watchdogs to warn that any further safety issues could adversely affect passenger confidence.

Flyglobespan was launched in 2002 as an offshoot of the Globespan Group, based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The company was primarily a tour operator to Canada after it was formed in 1974.

It started operating holiday flights from Scotland to the Mediterranean, which was later expanded to North America.

Flyglobespan, which at present has a fleet of 15 aircraft, was named in 2007 as the best holiday airline by the Scottish Passenger Agents Association.

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