NCA slapped with ‘Business Improvement Order’ as limited flights continue

NCA 747-8F by Masakatsu Ukon

A month after the Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA) halted all flight operations due to problems with its aircraft maintenance records, Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLITT) issued a “Business Improvement Order” for violating safety procedures under the Civil Aeronautics Law of Japan.

When the violations first came to light in mid-June, NCA grounded all 11 of its 747 freighters from June 17 to July 4, as a formal MLITT investigation was launched. Since then, two aircraft – a 747-400F and a 747-8F – have returned to limited service, but most other cargo operations remain halted, NCA said.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience that we caused our customers,” read a statement on NCA’s website. “We will do our utmost effort to conclude the safety checks for resuming the operation as quick as possible.”

The MLITT said NCA violated Article 104, Paragraph 1; Article 76, Paragraph 1; and Article 20, Paragraph 2, of the Civil Aeronautics Law of Japan, which involves “(a) inappropriate maintenance for the aircraft structure, (b) the report delay to the MLITT, and (c) organized manipulation and concealment of corresponding maintenance records.”

NCA said it is “utilizing a third-party company” to help evaluate the root causes of the maintenance record discrepancies and to “examine preventive measures immediately,” followed by a report to the MLITT by an unspecified date.

In its statement, the Narita-based carrier also alluded to other problems that had cropped up two years ago with Japan’s aviation ministry. “We are re-evaluating our internal processes and controls since our analysis and preventive measures for the ‘Written Warning’ NCA received from the MLITT on 5 October, 2016 did not prevent these same types of discrepancies in our operation.”

NCA added that the two aircraft currently flying have been thoroughly cleared for airworthiness and safety. However, the other nine freighters are “undergoing the same inspection, and we will inform the schedule updates as soon as it is decided,” the carrier said.

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