The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a significant civil penalty of $477,000 against the Virgin Islands Port Authority for alleged improper airfield maintenance at Cyril E. King International Airport (STT).
The FAA Allegations
Cracked Runway and Taxiway Pavement
One of the primary concerns raised by the FAA during their airport inspections in 2021 and 2022 was the presence of cracked runway and taxiway pavement.
This is a critical issue as such cracks can pose serious risks to aircraft during takeoff and landing. The FAA, as the regulatory body overseeing aviation safety in the United States, understandably takes these matters seriously.
Improperly Graded and Drained Runway Safety Area
The safety of passengers and crew is of utmost importance in aviation. An improperly graded and drained runway safety area can lead to water accumulation, which can in turn cause hydroplaning during wet conditions.
The FAA found this issue at Cyril E. King International Airport, and it raised concerns regarding the adequacy of safety measures in place.
Obstructions in the Runway Safety Area
Clearing the runway safety area of obstructions is essential for safe takeoffs and landings. The presence of obstacles in this critical zone can increase the risk of accidents.
Runway and Taxiway Markings
Proper runway and taxiway markings are vital for guiding aircraft on the ground. The FAA noted faded, missing, or incorrect markings at the airport.
These markings are essential for pilots to navigate safely, especially during adverse weather conditions or low visibility.
Airport signage plays a crucial role in providing information to pilots and ground personnel. Inaccurate signs can lead to misunderstandings and potentially dangerous situations.
Runway Edge Lights
Runway edge lights are essential for night operations. Damaged or missing lights can compromise the safety of nighttime takeoffs and landings.
Ensuring the functionality of these lights is a fundamental aspect of airport maintenance.
The proper storage, dispensing, and handling of fuel are critical for aviation safety. Any lapses in this area can lead to fuel-related incidents, posing serious threats to aircraft and passengers.
Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM)
Issuing a Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) is a standard practice in the aviation industry to inform air carriers of any issues at an airport that could affect flight operations.
The FAA alleges that the Virgin Islands Port Authority failed to issue a NOTAM regarding the runway issue at Cyril E. King International Airport.
This failure to communicate critical information raises questions about safety and compliance.
The Virgin Islands Port Authority’s Response
The Virgin Islands Port Authority now have 30 days to respond to the FAA’s enforcement letter. Their response will not only determine the outcome of the proposed civil penalty but also reflect their commitment to rectifying the alleged violations and ensuring the safety of all airport stakeholders.
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