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ValuJet Could Be Back in Sky By Next Week

Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON

ValuJet Airlines, grounded since June, has improved its maintenance operations and will be permitted to resume some flights, perhaps as early as next week, federal regulators said Thursday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it has reviewed the discount airline's revised maintenance and operations programs and will permit ValuJet to resume flights with nine to 15 aircraft in seven days, unless serious objections are raised from "interested parties."

The Atlanta-based airline had 51 planes in the air until it agreed to suspend all flights on June 18 following the crash of a DC-9 in the Florida Everglades on May 11. All 110 persons aboard were killed.

The Department of Transportation, the FAA's parent, also issued a tentative finding Thursday that ValuJet was economically sound and that its present top executives were qualified to continue running the company.

Transportation officials said they had found no reason to accede to a demand by Susan Clayton, president of the Atlanta chapter of the Association of Flight Attendants, that Lewis Jordan be removed as company president.

If credible objections to ValuJet's new maintenance procedures are raised within the next week, FAA officials said they could delay the resumption of flights while the complaints were reviewed.

Seeking to assure the public that ValuJet is airworthy, the FAA said the airline has passed an "intensive review" of its improved maintenance system and will be subjected to special oversight by additional federal inspectors.

Bill White, FAA deputy director of flight standards services, said the agency returned ValuJet's operating certificate because the company "addressed and completed all the items outlined in the consent order" that grounded planes in June.

"They are in compliance with the safety regulations," White said. "It's up to ValuJet to maintain the safe operation of the aircraft."