Issues surrounding an “inappropriate maintenance record” discovered on June 16th has caused the entire fleet of aircraft to be grounded by the Japanese carrier, Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA). According to an official statement from NCA, the grounding is expected to last for over a week as aviation officials conduct an independent safety audit of the eleven 747 freighter aircraft. Discrepancies and inconsistencies in the maintenance records alerted inspectors that something was amiss and flights could be unsafe.
“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.”
Unfortunately this is not the first issue NCA has had with maintenance records as NCA was found to have omitted other incidents where damages had occurred to aircraft back in May. Between the voluntary grounding and following audit, NCA is working with their internal personnel to take disciplinary action toward those involved with the record keeping mistakes.
The original estimation was for the fleet to be out of commission for only a week, but industry experts have determined that’s a very optimistic assessment. The best case scenario for a return to full capacity appears to be two to three weeks, leaving shippers in a lurch as already tight air capacity reaches a stranglehold. While larger forwarders have made outside arrangements, it’s a major disruption that everyone will feel.
“Getting them back into rotation – we anticipate it’s probably going to be as much as two to three weeks,” explained Bob Imbriani, VP at Team Worldwide. “That all takes a little bit of time, assuming there’s nothing that’s going to ground them longer.”
We at Nelson International understand the very delicate balance that forwarders must maintain when dealing in air freight and want to assure our customers we’re watching this situation very closely to ensure the best routings are being used to keep cargo moving on time. We hope to update this story soon with good news.