CLEARWATER — Business jet operator Avantair says it has instituted an "operational pause" of its fleet of private business aircraft, marking the second time in eight months that the Clearwater company has grounded its aircraft for a safety review.
Avantair offers customers fractional ownership of its fleet of about 56 Piaggio Avanti planes. It employs several hundred people and operates out of St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.
Last summer, one of its planes lost its left tail elevator during a West Coast trip. By the end of October, the company grounded its entire fleet to review safety procedures and inspect its planes.
This latest stoppage began Friday, according to the company, after the new safety procedures revealed potential issues in monitoring parts that must be replaced after a certain number of hours in use. The company said it doesn't believe there's any specific issue to worry about, but the large number of time-controlled parts — more than 100 per aircraft — persuaded it to keep its planes out of the air this week during the inspection.
Avantair said it expects to start putting the fleet back into service by the end of the week. No employees were furloughed this time, the company said, as happened when the fleet was grounded in October.