Due to an “inappropriate maintenance record” that was discovered on Saturday, Japan-based carrier Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA) decided to ground its entire fleet of eleven 747 freighter aircraft on Sunday, June 17. The grounding is expected to last “about one week” while Japanese aviation officials conduct a safety audit, according to an official statement on NCA’s website.
The Narita-based all-cargo carrier was first alerted to the problem after inspectors from Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) discovered significant inconsistencies in NCA’s maintenance records for its widebodies – three 747-400Fs and eight 747-8Fs. NCA said the discrepancy involved a maintenance record “concerning the lubricating oil supply to the aircraft parts” of one of its 747-8F aircraft at Narita International Airport on April 3, 2018.
“In an abundance of caution and to ensure the safety of our operation, we decided to temporarily ground all aircraft until all maintenance records have been confirmed appropriate,” read NCA’s statement. “We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and worries we caused our customers. We will do our utmost effort to check safety for resuming operation as quickly as possible.”
During this week’s voluntary grounding, most of NCA’s operations will be halted, including codeshare flights to be operated by Luxembourg-based Cargolux and Japan-based ANA. However, according to our sister publication, Cargo Facts, flights made by Atlas Air Inc. – which operates two 747-400Fs on an ACMI-basis for NCA – will likely continue flying this week.
This weekend’s incident is not the first time this year that NCA’s maintenance records have been questioned. According to NHK World News, JCAB had noted in May that NCA had omitted multiple incidents of damage involving its aircraft and had been preparing for an audit of the airline before this weekend’s incident and grounding occurred.
The JCAB is also said to be considering “taking disciplinary measures” on NCA for the recordkeeping incidents, reported NHK World News.