Chalk's Airline Resuming Service to Bahamas Nov. 9

Nearly one year after a crash killed 20 people, Chalk's International Airlines has received federal approval to resume service to the Bahamas, but without its trademark seaplanes.

Chalk's plans to begin flying from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas on Nov. 9 with land-based planes leased from Big Sky Airlines of Billings, Mont., the company said.

Chalk's said it plans to lease additional planes to fly from Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach County to Tallahassee, Gainesville, Orlando, Tampa and Key West.

The carrier is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to rebuild its seaplanes to resume service from Miami's Watson Island, general manager Roger Nair said.

The airline, known previously as Chalk's Ocean Airways, has been grounded since one of its Grumman G-73T Turbo Mallard seaplanes crashed into the water shortly after takeoff on Dec. 19, 2005, killing 18 passengers and both pilots.

The plane's right wing had broken off and investigators found fatigue cracks in both wing structures. The FAA then grounded all 37 Mallard seaplanes in the U.S., including the four remaining ones operated by Chalk's.

Chalk's hired an FAA-approved engineer to guide them through the process of rebuilding troubled sections of the World War II-vintage seaplanes, Chalk's owner and president Jim Confalone said.

Negotiations continue between Chalk's lawyers and attorneys for the families of the crash victims on how to divide a proposed $51 million settlement. A filing in federal court said an agreement between the two sides would allow all claims to be settled by Dec. 15.

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