The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a $1.4m civil fine against the Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) for alleged violations of airport safety regulations at two US airports.
The FAA examined Henry E Rohlsen Airport in St Croix and Cyril E King Airport in St Thomas in late January and early February this year. During the inspection, the watchdog found that a number of violations took place at both the airports.
Blasting the VIPA for violations, the federal agency said that VIPA did not have qualified personnel to manage airport operations and carry out daily inspections, airport rescue and fire-fighting (ARFF) operations.
Additionally, the agency alleged that both the airports failed to maintain and make available to the FAA records of its emergency plans, certification manuals, and training records for operations supervisors and ARFF employees.
VIPA was also accused of failing to fulfil the ARFF requirements for air carrier flights at Henry E Rohlsen Airport (STX). This allegation was brought after an ARFF unit failed to use a fire-extinguishing agent within the stipulated time.
In order to remove hazardous ruts, humps, depressions or other surface variations, VIPA did not effectively grade the safety area for runways at the two airports, FAA alleged.
Furthermore, it was found that the lighting, marking and signing systems at the airports were inadequate for runways and taxiways. VIPA was also accused of failing to issue Notices to Airman (NOTAM) to inform air carriers of the runway and taxiway issues at the airports.
According to FAA, VIPA was also unable to confirm that every STX fuelling agent had trained fuelling personnel, while failing to take measures in order to avert wildlife hazards detected at the landfill near the airport.
VIPA has been given a deadline of 30 days to respond to the agency.