May 1, 2009 — Four Star Air Cargo voluntarily stopped flying its three DC-3 airplanes Thursday after a Federal Aviation Administration inspection on Tuesday showed that the airline's planes did not have FAA-approved engines, FAA spokesman Kathleen Bergen said from her Atlanta office on Friday.
"If and when they get approved engines, they could start up again," she said.
Four Star flies the mail between San Juan and the Virgin Islands.
Four Star Chief Executive Officer Stuart Diamond disputes the FAA's contention that the planes have engines that are not certified.
"The FAA has decided that even though they approved the engines, they're not approving them," he said.
Four Star plans to file charges against the FAA with U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., Diamond said.
"This is a criminal action by individuals at the FAA," Diamond said.
This is the second time in two weeks that the FAA told Four Star to stop flying because it had equipment on board that was not FAA-certified. On April 17, Bergen said the company was told not to fly one of its planes because the cargo restraint system wasn't certified. (See: "FAA Stops Four Star From Flying Mail To V.I..")
Then, on April 26, a fire broke out on a Four Star aircraft as it began take off for a flight from San Juan to St. Thomas. No one was hurt, but the five people on board evacuated.
While FAA spokesman Arlene Salac said on the day of the fire that the plane was totally destroyed, Diamond said Friday that the plane was not a total loss.
About one-quarter of the mail was lost in the fire. U.S. Postal Service spokesman Monica Hand said at the time that another quarter could be salvaged and delivered.
According to Hand, the plane was carrying 6,000 pounds of Priority, Express and First Class mail, but most of the mail was Priority.
On Friday, she had no information about what airline was flying the mail between San Juan and the Virgin Islands. "But the mail is moving," she said.
Four Star's contract with the Postal Service has "four or five" years to go, Diamond said.
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