By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THREE of Bahamasair’s largest planes have been blocked from entering the United States because they lack surveillance technology demanded by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The FAA in 2010 issued a rule requiring aircraft to be equipped with ADS-B avionics by January 1, 2020. The technology improves safety and efficiency in the air and on runways through its tracking capabilities.
It has has been difficult for Bahamasair to secure necessary kits for the company’s 737-500 planes, an older generation of Boeing jets, according to chairman Tommy Turnquest. The company signed a contract in June for a supplier to deliver three kits in September, October and November of last year but that supplier reneged on its responsibilities, he said yesterday. The airline has paid the company $200,000 of its $600,000 contract.
“The supplier indicated they are unable to provide the kits before March 2020 and that is not acceptable to us,” Mr Turnquest said. “Every effort will be made to recoup the money already paid.”
“This first came up in 2010 but very few aircraft took advantage because within ten years you’re not sure what your fleet would be. In 2018 efforts began to outfit these various aircraft. When Bahamasair purchased five ATRs back in 2016 navigational kits were not put in place but were accessed over the past two years.”
The airline is eyeing a deal with a new supplier that indicated it could provide the kits within three weeks for about $195,000 for each plane once an order is placed.
Bahamasair has nine planes: five ATRs, including two 70-seaters and three 50-seaters; three 737-500 planes that can carry 120 people each; and one 138-seater 737-790 plane.
Mr Turnquest said one of the 737-500 planes was soon scheduled to be out of commission for a maintenance check in Costa Rica that is expected to last about 75 days.
He does not anticipate disruption in Bahamasair’s services or tedious delays, he said.
“We’ve had to take the remaining two jets out and put them on other routes,” he said, identifying Grand Bahama, Exuma and Haiti as the temporary new routes for the planes.