The National Transportation Safety Board ruled yesterday that the Airline Passengers Association could not participate in administrative appeals of the grounding of the DC 10 widebodied jet.
The ruling clears the way for an administrative law judge to resume hearing the appeal this morning. McDonnell Douglas, the manufacturer of the DC10, has appeal the June 6 order by Federal Aviation Administration chief Langhorne M. Bond that grounded the jetliner.
Meanwhile, the DC10 remains grounnded. FAA officials had said Sunday night they hoped they would be able to lift the ban on the jumbo jet yesterday or today, but had cautioned then that the timetable was not firm.
The Airline Passengers Association (APA), an organization that claims 50,000 members, was admitted to the DC10 appeal by administrative law judge William E. Fowler. The APA earlier had obtained an injunction in U.S. District Court here ordering the FAA to ground the plane.
The safety board proceeding was another matter. The full board ruled that the APA had no standing in the case because it would not be bounded by an order resulting from the appeal and had no property or financial interest in the proceeding. Those are the only grounds for participation, the board said.
The board also held that Judge Fowler acted properly two weeks ago when he insisted that McDonnell Douglas first waive its right to a ruling on the appeal within a 60-day period before he would grant the company's request for a delay in the hearing.
Three airlines flying DC10s - World, Northwest and Trans International - had sought to have the 60-day rule reinstated. Nonetheless, the board said, it would expert Judge Fowler to proceed as if the case were an emergency, thus requiring a decision within the 60-day period.
Most top FAA officials involved in the DC10 case returned to Washington from Los Angeles this morning to prepare the final reports and rulings needed before the ban on DC10 flights can be lifted..