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FAA GROUNDS PLANES WITH SUSPECT BLADES

The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday ordered the grounding of any planes similar to the Atlantic Southeast Airlines turboprop that crashed Monday in Georgia if they are equipped with Hamilton Standard propeller blades that were repaired after ultrasonic inspections.

The agency also said other models of commuter planes equipped with repaired Hamilton Standard 14RF and 14SF blades must be re-inspected ultrasonically within their next 10 flights. If any anomalies are found in the new inspections, those planes must be taken out of service until the blades are replaced, the FAA said.The actions followed a call earlier Friday by the National Transportation Safety Board for urgent inspections of all Hamilton Standard model 14RF and 14SF propeller blades if they have accu-mu-lated more than 1,250 flights since their last ultrasonic inspections.

That could involve grounding as many as 400 planes, and the FAA's staff is consulting with the safety board to determine if that was the intent of the recommendation, FAA deputy administrator Linda Hall Daschle said Friday night. She said the agency would respond to that recommendation by no later than Monday.