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My understanding is that there were problems with paperwork on aircraft here in Oregon and elsewhere, and they decided to self-ground and inspect everything to be on the safe side. The FAA was involved in turning up at least some of those discrepancies, but I think it was an in-house decision (and a prudent one) to make sure everything is in order before something more serious could happen.

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Hovergirl is right. It was an in house decision by the president Max Lyons. Here is the newsletter he put out to students...

 

September 19, 2008

 

Dear Hillsboro Aviation Students:

 

I wanted to inform you that I have made the decision to conduct a conformity inspection of our entire fleet of aircraft. A conformity inspection is where our mechanics complete a full review of an aircraft's maintenance records and complete a special inspection of the aircraft itself. Unfortunately, conducting a fleet-wide inspection will require us to down a majority of our aircraft for a short period of time. While we expect a number of aircraft to return to flight status within the next 5-7 days, there may be some aircraft that will remain unavailable for up to two to three weeks. As each aircraft's conformity inspection is completed, the aircraft will be immediately returned to flight status.

 

The reason I have chosen to make this move is because over the last few days I have become aware of some paperwork issues on some of our aircraft. A recent review by the FAA and our own mechanics has turned up some abnormalities that made me realize the best decision was to order a fleet-wide inspection to take place.

 

I want to make this clear: Our aircraft fleet is safe and well maintained. We have some of the best mechanics in the industry and as far as safety goes, I cannot think of another flight school in the United States who has a better safety record than Hillsboro Aviation.

 

While I am sorry this conformity inspection may cause you a short delay in your training, I want to remind you of an event that happened earlier this year when Southwest Airlines grounded 50 of their 737s when they discovered some maintenance abnormalities, and when American Airlines grounded 300 MD-80s for similar reasons in March 2008. Those airlines made the same safe and prudent decision I made today. They pulled the aircraft off the flight line to make sure they have everything right.

 

I also want to assure you that Hillsboro Aviation is both a financially strong and healthy company. The flight school is an important part of our business, but it is only one part of our company. We are diversified in many other areas of aviation - for example, our helicopter sales department is the #1 seller of helicopters in the United States.

 

I am fully committed to getting our fleet completely in the air within the shortest period of time that safety allows. Not only will Hillsboro Aviation's mechanics be involved in this conformity check, but we have also hired numerous senior A&P mechanics from other companies to assist us in the process.

 

We will keep everyone informed of the status of the fleet via messages on the homepage of Schedulepointe. You can also call Dispatch anytime, as we will keep Dispatch open normal hours during this period. Thank you for your understanding and I again apologize for the delays this may cause in your training.

 

Sincerely,

 

Max Lyons

President

 

I am a student at Hillsboro and it's pretty sucky. There is only one helicopter flying right now and it's one of the oldest ones, lol. There are 100+ students trying to get a two hour slot in one helicopter. I haven't flown since two thursdays ago. I'm getting a new computer tomorrow so I can use X-plane. Anyway, I guess they're hoping to be back up by Friday, two Friday's ago they said Monday, so who knows.

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Look on the bright side, there's a lot of CFI's that would give their right nut to be working for an outfit that safety conscious. I know 1 guy that quit a part time job instructing because the boss refused to repair certain items on his choppers that clearly made them unairworthy(if that's even a word!).

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Anyone who has been in the industry for awhile and has had experience dealing with the FAA, can read between the lines. More than likely, they were told by the FAA that they could continue to fly, but if any problems were found on flying aircraft, they could be fined up to $10K per flight and for the FAA that means from takeoff to landing. So a student does 10 takeoffs and landings, the fine is $100K. ML is a hands on owner and I find difficult to believe he didn't know what was going on.

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If the FAA are like death star house in the UK you only require 1 line on a form to be incorrect and "CAboom" paper work for months!!!!

 

In some ways I think they are worst. If you ask them for an opinion and they are wrong, YOU get put on the chopping block. If they were right, but another FSDO disagrees, YOU get put on the chopping block. And if they lie to you and you can prove they lied to you, YOU still get put on the chopping block. The FAA used to be full of good guys to work with. Now the good guys are out numbered by the stupid, incompetent, inexperienced and lazy.

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Yes, it may take a couple weeks, maybe a month or more, to get most of their fleet back up...but I would rather fly a ship with one extra inspection than a ship with one less. Consider it a very temporary setback as part of your long career.

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