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By Moneth G. Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Jan. 16) – Commonwealth Ports Authority Chairman Rex I. Palacios says Taga Air Charter Service Inc. committed a runway incursion and did not report the incident to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Palacios said CPA was asked by the FAA to submit a report about the incident, which damaged an airport transformer early last month.

The FAA defines a runway incursion as "any occurrence at an [airport] involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take off of aircraft."

Taga Air Charter Service Inc. is operating a charter permit since 2005. It declined to comment about the incident.

Palacios said based on the report given to him, the company failed to report the incident right away as required by the FAA.

"This violation is what the FAA calls a runway incursion and that’s the big issue in this matter," he said. "If the pilot reported immediately the incident, the issue may not be considered that serious," he said.

CPA will order Taga Air to pay for the cost of fixing the transformer, Palacios said.

"The FAA asked CPA to submit our report and we have done that. So based on what we have filed, they’re going to make a determination whether they should suspend Taga Air’s service," he said.

Variety learned that Taga Air "voluntarily suspended" its service for a couple of days before resuming its operations.

Palacios said CPA is still quantifying the cost of fixing the damaged transformer so that the agency can bill Taga Air.

He said the incident may affect the Taga Air’s efforts of securing a license.

The U.S. Department of Transportation earlier threatened to cancel Taga Air’s air taxi certificate if it cannot provide proof that the company is owned by a U.S. citizen.

Taga Air has been given until Jan. 22, 2008 to file objections to the order.

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