CAAP Grounds Seair LET Fleet

On Passenger Safety Concerns

June 30, 2010

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines has directed Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAIR) to ground all of its LET410 flights due to safety concerns of the aircraft.

The LET410 is a twin engine short-range aircraft which has a seating capacity of 14 passengers and are capable of Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) in about 750 meters with full pay load.

The plane is manufactured by the Czechoslovakian aircraft manufacturer Let Kunovice and first flew in 1969. There were more than 1,100 frames produced and used worldwide. SEAIR's fleet of LET-410 UVPs were manufactured in the late 80's making them more than 20 years old.

SEAIR said flights will be temporarily discontinued beginning on Wednesday, June 30. The affected destinations are El Nido; San Fernando, La Union; Marinduque; Zamboanga; Tawi-Tawi; and Jolo.

"This is to comply with the instruction of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP)" the company said in a statement. Also affected by the directive are four other operators which include Sky Pasada, an airline based in Baguio. There are at least 14 LET-410 registered in the country.

"The CAAP directive, which covers all LET410s operating throughout the Philippines, calls for 15 cabin and aircraft systems safety modifications, the most major and costly of which is the installation of two additional exit doors in each aircraft as shown on the illustration on the left under the wing. LET 410 operators were given three weeks to comply," a company statement said.

CAAP however denied giving them 3 weeks notice as they were informed of the deficiency two years ago.

" Its unfair for them to say that they were not informed because they were notified two years in advance" CAAP Official said in response to SEAIR claim.

SEAIR added that they have no choice but to retire the aircraft from passenger service because their Airworthiness Certificate and type ratings has been recalled.

SEAIR operates a fleet of six Let 410-UVP's and four Dornier 328-100's. One of the Dornier 328 plane was previously recalled from service because it was not certified by the manufacturer to carry passengers, while another one was declared unfit for civil aviation.

With the fleet recall, only two planes operate for SEAIR, the remaining Dornier 328 which fly to Caticlan; Batanes; Tablas, Romblon; Clark; and Cebu. SEAIR has daily flights to Caticlan and Batanes, with at least seven flights a day to Caticlan.

In response to the changes, SEAIR announced that "it will be bringing in additional Dornier 328s starting August 2010 to beef up operations in the growing markets of Batanes, Caticlan, and Romblon."

SEAIR said the acquisition of new planes is part of the SEAIR fleet expansion program. Two more 328's will fly in October, bringing the total fleet count to five by the end of the year.

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