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This weekend, the skies over San Diego will be home to a 1957 seaplane that’s sparked controversy over whether it’s safe to fly.
Despite questions raised by ABC News about the plane’s safety, Red Bull is going ahead with plans to fly its promotional Grumman HU-16E “Albatross” seaplane during the energy-drink company’s air-race competition.
The plane will perform at the Red Bull Air Race Championship event in San Diego Bay and fly back and forth to the race site from the Brown Field airport, said Red Bull spokeswoman Maddy Stephens.
Red Bull contends that the seaplane is safe. But in March, ABC News reported that the Coast Guard decommissioned the plane in 1976 “because they considered it no longer safe to fly given the age of its wings.”
In an interview on “Good Morning America,” former Federal Aviation Administration safety inspector Bill McNease said the 66-foot-long plane is “terribly unsafe because the wing could fall off at any time.” According to ABC, the FAA temporarily grounded the plane in 2007 because of “concerns surrounding the plane’s flight hours.”
The FAA now allows the plane to fly, and it’s maintained “in a condition safe for flight,” said Red Bull spokeswoman Stephens.
Red Bull flies the plane, emblazoned with a red bull, at promotional events around the country.