Canada Identifies Jetsgo Shortcomings

March 9, 2005

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Canada said on Wednesday that investigators had identified shortcomings in the operating methods of discount airline Jetsgo and said it was working with the carrier to address the findings.

The deficiencies were discovered during "a special inspection" into a forced landing of a Jetsgo aircraft in January, said a spokeswoman for Transport Canada.

Lucie Vignola said inspectors had looked at the airline's flight safety program, flight operations, flight and duty times, documentation and flight crew training.

"We identified a few issues and so we brought those to Jetsgo's attention. Those were related to their organizational structures and some deficiencies in their manuals," Vignola said.

"We're working with them right now to clarify those issues so they can address them so we can make sure they're as safe as they can be," she added. Jetsgo -- a privately held company -- did not respond to requests for comment.

Investigators are also probing two separate engine problems suffered by Jetsgo planes over the last week, Vignola said.

Last Friday an engine failed as a Jetsgo aircraft was taking off from Toronto on a flight to Vancouver. A day later one of the carrier's planes was forced to land in South Carolina after an engine sprang an oil leak.

The January incident prompted Transport Canada last month to ban the airline from flying above 29,000 feet, a move that means Jetsgo's planes are consuming extra fuel.

Jetsgo, which started flying in 2002, operates 14 Boeing MD-83 airliners and is in the process of adding 18 Fokker 100 commuter jets. It operates to 30 destinations in Canada and the United States.

If Canadian authorities are concerned about a domestic airline they have the choice of speaking to management, imposing a fine or even suspending its operating certificate.

"If there's an immediate safety threat, then there are no interim measures, you ground the fleet right away," said Vignola, stressing she would not speculate about what further action, if any, Ottawa might take in the case of Jetsgo.

Transport Minister Jean Lapierre said other airlines had suffered engine failures without being shut down. "If it wasn't safe to fly on it (Jetsgo), we would not be letting it fly," he told reporters.

(Reuters)