Skymark Airlines Co. came under a Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry inspection Friday because it had until recently flown a jet for nine months without required repairs, and then admitted later in the day that the same jet should have been fixed instead of flown after it was hit by lightning Thursday.
Ministry officials said a team of seven officials was dispatched to Tokyo’s Haneda airport to examine the airline’s operations for about a month, the first such measure the ministry has taken.
Skymark officials said later Friday that the same Boeing 767-300 remained in operation Thursday evening despite being struck by lightning at Tokushima airport.
Flight 808 from Haneda was hit around 7:30 p.m., shortly after landing at Tokushima. The plane, with 132 passengers aboard, returned to Haneda later Thursday after a visual check by a maintenance crew failed to spot any damage. But further checks at Haneda showed a rivet under a door had melted, the officials said.
A Skymark official said: “The damage should have been fixed at Tokushima and the return flight suspended. Operating the return flight was wrong.”
Transport minister Kazuo Kitagawa said his ministry will tighten checks on the airline in the wake of its negligence over the repairs to the jet.
The minister said at that time Skymark appears to be deploying less manpower for maintenance than larger airlines, including Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways.
The Boeing 767-300 had resumed service Tuesday morning in a flight from Haneda airport to Tokushima after the repairs were completed Monday, Skymark said.
Japan Airlines carried out the repairs at Skymark’s request.
On March 10, Skymark notified the transport ministry of the overshot deadline after an employee discovered it the night before.
A dent 6 cm long, 1.5 cm wide and 1 mm deep under the starboard front boarding door was found during maintenance at a Taiwan airport in June 2004 when it was being operated by a Brunei airline, according to the ministry.
A Taiwanese maintenance company later put a plate over the dent to repair it under the instructions of U.S. airplane maker Boeing Co., which said more repairs needed to be done in a year, according to the ministry.
The plane was delivered to Skymark in November that year and went into operation the next month.
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