Cape Air begins returning grounded planes to the air
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HYANNIS, Mass. -- Cape Air began putting some of its planes back into service on Wednesday after grounding its entire 49-plane fleet of Cessna 402s because of a potentially faulty engine part.
Mechanics replaced the components in a hangar at Barnstable Municipal Airport that was filled with twin-engine, piston-driven Cessnas that link Cape Cod and the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard with Boston, New Bedford and Providence, R.I.
"They're working 24 hours a day, and they're doing seven to eight aircraft a day," said Michelle Haynes, a spokeswoman for the Hyannis-based regional carrier.
The seven planes that had returned to service by Wednesday evening carried a total 251 passengers, Haynes said.
Cape Air on Tuesday grounded its fleet and canceled hundreds of flights serving New England as well as routes in the Carribean and Florida. The move followed three recent engine failures on the airlines' planes. In each case, the plane was able to land safely using the remaining working engine.
The majority of Cape Air's planes remained grounded Wednesday. Most planes are expected to be back in service by the weekend, with full operations expected by early next week, Haynes said.
The carrier grounded planes after consulting with Federal Aviation Administration officials and the manufacturer of the aircraft's engine, Continental Teledyne. Mechanics are replacing crankshaft counterweights suspected of being prone to wearing down prematurely.
"The unusual wear pattern on these parts has to be fixed," Haynes said."It's a tough decision, but it's the only decision."
On Wednesday, passengers on the carrier's Hyannis-Nantucket were accommodated on Island Airlines, but most flights on other local routes were canceled. The airline was trying to find alternative transportation for customers on buses, ferries and other airlines.
The airline posted revised flight information on its Web site, flycapeair.com.
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