U.S. District Court Judge Aubrey E. Robinson Jr. said yesterday that he would take no further legal action in the grounding of DC10 jets until the Federal Aviation Administration determines the safety of the aircraft, one of which crashed in Chicago last month, killing 273.
Robinson on June 5 ordered the grounding of the DC10 aircraft, finding that the FAA "failed to adequately promote safety of flight of civil aircraft" by allowing the plane to be flown while the cause of the American Airlines crash in Chicago was being determined.
The judge then stayed his order overnight for a rehearing on the grounding the next morning. But in the interim, the FAA grounded the planes after finding possible design defects.
Robinson said in a brief order yesterday that "many of the technical questions relevant" to the court case "are also central to the administrative proceedings" being conducted by the FAA. He said that as a result he would "yield primary jurisdiction" to the FAA in the ground dispute, while retaining overall control of the case.
The judge had issued the grounding order in a suit brought by the Airline Passengers Association, a group that says it has 50,000 members who frequently fly on airliners.
While postponing any further court proceedings, Robinson said he would allow five airlines - World, Western, Northwest, Continental and Trans International - to become parties in the court case, as well as the manufacturer of the DC10s, McDonnell Douglas Corp.
McDonnell Douglas yesterday asked the National Transportation Safety Board to revoke the FAA's suspension of the DC10 operating authority, saying the grounding is "not supported by substantial and reliable evidence." The manufacturer asked that the safety board set a hearing on the appeal as soon as possible in Los Angeles.