A passenger plane banned from Swiss airspace for safety reasons is grounded at Beirut airport after authorities found it to be unfit to fly, Lebanese civil aviation officials said Thursday.
The private JR Executive, a Lebanese-U.S. company, is among several airlines whose planes are banned from Swiss airspace. The Swiss government, under pressure from travel companies and consumers, released on Wednesday a partial list of the banned airlines that includes the Egyptian carrier Flash, whose airliner crashed into the Red Sea earlier this month, and four other airlines.
The Swiss Federal Office for Civil Aviation refused to release other names on the full list of 21 banned aircraft on grounds that it is confidential under a Europe-wide aircraft inspection program.
Lebanese aviation officials told The Associated Press that the JR Executive Boeing 720 has been grounded at Beirut International Airport since Sept. 12.
The decision was taken according to a directive issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation after inspection showed the jet to have 31 defects, the aviation officials said.
Officials at JR were not immediately available for comment.
The airliner is owned by a former Lebanese pilot and is registered in the United States, the aviation officials said. The company owns two other Boeing jets and several other small training jets.
Airport officials said another Boeing 720 owned by the company was currently not functional, and that a Boeing 727 has been grounded since Jan. 1 pending repairs.
Swiss consumer groups and travel companies have been insisting they had a right to know the names of airlines whose planes had been banned for safety reasons. The pressure grew after the British government last week published a list of airlines that are banned from its airspace.
The Swiss had already disclosed that planes of Egyptian carrier Flash Airlines had been banned from Switzerland for more than a year before one of them crashed after takeoff from the resort of Sharm el-Sheik on Jan. 3, killing all 148 people on board _ most of them French tourists.(AP- By Zeina Karam)
Beirut, Updated 15 Jan 04, 13:37
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is Lebanon's equivalent to the US' Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It sets the standards and regulations of civil aviation in Lebanon.
Here is the plane:
Photo © Peter Unmuth - VAP
Here is a shot of it sitting in Beirut International Airport: