- Associated Press - Saturday, September 26, 2015

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - A Las Cruces aviation company relaunched its airport re-fueling service this week following a shut-down late last year.

Southwest Aviation Inc. has made upgrades to its fuel storage facilities, allowing the company to resume operations at the Las Cruces International Airport, reported The Las Cruces Sun-News (https://bit.ly/1YHqtAR ).

City officials insist the temporary closure was because the company didn’t meet with state standards, and not related to an air ambulance crash that killed four people in August 2014. Federal safety investigators said that crash was caused by the aircraft receiving the wrong fuel from a Southwest Aviation Inc. employee.

Southwest Aviation owner Hal Kading, however, said that leaves him wondering why his company was cut off from using its fuel storage in November 2014 — right when a second operator started at the airport.

“We talked to the state inspectors, and, while it was true we didn’t meet the standards, the city was fine with it up until the day Francis Aviation opened,” he said. “And that’s the day that they shut us off.”

The city required improvements like supports for the storage tanks and a concrete holding area — upgrades that weren’t complex but came with lengthy city approval processes, according to Kading.

“I can’t imagine it would take 10 months to approve a construction job that took all of a couple of weeks to build,” he said.

Las Cruces spokesman Udell Vigil said there was no attempt to stall the company’s fuel services and that the operations were simply shut down because they didn’t comply with state regulations. Now that Southwest Aviation has been re-inspected, it’s free to re-fuel again, he said.

Kading said his company is also taking measures to prevent refueling accidents like the one in the August 2014 crash.

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Information from: Las Cruces Sun-News, https://www.lcsun-news.com


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