Air Transport World

More commuter-regional groundings likely. (FAA procedures not being understood)

More commuter/regional groundings likely

Commuter and regional airline groundings and certificate revocations likely will continue unabated in the rest for 1985, according to Federal Aviation Administration officials. Using the lessons learned after the National Air Transportation Inspection (NATI) program, FAA inspectors plan to continue their recent practice of scrutinizing management programs and records to determine if an airline is in compliance with the Federal Aviation Regulations.

The dynamics of commuter/regional growth strain management abilities more than any other aspect of running the airline, in the opinion of Jonathan Howe, director of FAA's Southeastern Region. "We aren't in the business of putting airlines out of business,' Howe told ATW. "We are out to ensure compliance with the regulations.'

Responsible for more than 700 certificates, with 220 inspectors to oversee them, the Southeastern Region covers a major portion of the U.S.' airlines. Howe's region has initiated more recent groundings than any other region, giving the Southeast group the dubious honor of being experts in the field of dealing with commuter woes.

A matter of numbers

Howe believes the pressures of deregulation are much greater than any envisioned in 1978. "The problems we're seeing now really began with deregulation,' Howe explained. "It's a matter of sheer numbers--the proliferation of commuters, regionals, air taxis, Part 121 operators. When you get this kind of growth this quickly, you're bound to get into some of these kind of problems.'

The most influential change, Howe believes, was in economic pressure. "After deregulation, airlines moved from being "public utilities' to free enterprise operations,' Howe said. …

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