Correction: This story originally indicated the FAA ordered the grounding of the plane. In reality, Four Star voluntarily took the plane out of service after learning of the problems. The Source regrets the error.
July 15, 2008 — Puerto Rican processing of Virgin Islands mail ran into turbulence over the weekend after Four Star Air Cargo grounded one of its aircraft following problems found during an inspection by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Four Star is one of several airlines under Postal Service contract to carry the territory's mail to the USPS processing facility in San Juan.
Lee Nieves, the FAA's front line manager in San Juan, said the cursory ramp inspection by FAA personnel found corrosion under the wing of one of the airline's planes.
"These airplanes are older than 50 years," Nieves said of the DC-3s that make up the Four Star fleet. "In this environment, you are going to find corrosion on any airplane."
Nieves said the airline was working to overcome the problem.
"There will be no impact to postal service," Monica Hand said on behalf of the USPS.
Four Star did not respond to inquiries about the snafu.
This is the latest in a lineup of problems associated with sending inter- and intra-territorial mail off-island for processing. The problems led to a USPS Office of Inspector General's audit of the territory's mail service.
Called for by Delegate Donna Christensen, the audit will review the number of delays as well as other problems in mail service for the territory. (See "Investigation of Postal Delays Could Take Six Months.")
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