At any one time this small airline has been flying 65 to 70 flights a day, serving an average of 15 to 20 destinations in the United States and Mexico. But in recent weeks, flying has not been easy. It comes as European air traffic authorities and the airline sector are in the midst of an unprecedented global aviation investigation that has been centered on an Airbus airplane that had been leased by Singapore Airlines. The airplane is one of 787 Dreamliners owned by the airline that was put out of commission when the engines failed on March 14 in Argentina.
Earlier this week, the union representing 787 pilots at Airbus issued a statement that the Ethiopian Airlines plane used to originate the flight to Spain had malfunctioned as it made its way to Oslo, Norway on March 13. The turbine blades apparently broke. One-third of its engines were also out, one of the most serious problems associated with the 70 new engines installed in the plane.
An investigation has been launched by the authorities in France, Sweden, Canada, China, France, South Korea, Australia, India, United Kingdom, the U.S. and Malaysia. And each day, passengers are being told, they are holding on to their tickets hoping the global inquiry will rule their planes out as a possible suspect. The only airliner found not yet to be implicated is the McDonnell Douglas DC-10. But even that, according to some in the aviation industry, can be a long shot. “The authorities have all these planes in multiple locations all over the world,” said George Ferguson, an analyst at UBS Securities. “I don’t think this is going to be an easy resolution.”
Peter Fitzpatrick, the general manager of Costa Luminosa in the United States, told Eyewitness News that the airplane that landed at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Thursday night was one of two leased for the flight to Madrid. He said, “Yes, it has the same problems. I know that.”
Ms. Fitzpatrick said “at this point, we’re just waiting for it to come to a point where we can have a conversation with the authorities.”