Cape Air Resumes Schedule

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Three days after Hyannis-based Cape Air grounded most of its fleet of Cessna 402 aircraft, the airline was expecting to operate an almost normal schedule this weekend. Now the big question is what is causing crankshaft counterweights to wear out prematurely in the big Continental engines that power the aircraft. According to the Cape Cod Times, thereís been speculation that a directive to pilots to reduce power settings to save fuel might have something to do with it, but the airline says the engines are being operated within limits and that that part of the engine shouldnít be affected by power settings. "We have parts on an aircraft engine that wore faster than we would have expected," Cape Air CEO Dan Wolf said. "It could mean anything." Although the airline is flying again, work continues to replace the counterweights in the engines of its 49 Cessna 402s. By Friday, 19 aircraft had been completed, and it could take two weeks to finish the job. The abnormal wear caused two engine failures within a few days of each other in late May. Jim Goddard, Cape Airís vice president of maintenance, said the aircraft are safe and said the airline makes maintenance a high priority. "We spend more money on the safety end of our operation than other people do," Goddard said. The FAA is monitoring the situation, but hasnít issued any advisories or directives.