Wednesday, February 17, 2010

FAA slaps American Eagle with multi-million dollar fine for improper repairs

by B. N. Sullivan

American EagleA short time ago, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a proposed $2.9 million civil penalty against American Eagle Airlines "for operating more than 1,000 flights using airplanes on which improper repairs were performed on landing gear doors," in violation of an FAA Airworthiness Directive. The airline has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s civil penalty letter to respond to the agency.

In a statement to the press, the agency said:
The FAA alleges that between February and May 2008, American Eagle conducted at least 1,178 passenger-carrying flights using four Bombardier jets with main landing gear doors that had not been repaired in accordance with an Airworthiness Directive that became effective in August 2006.


Airworthiness Directive 2006-14-05 required operators of certain Bombardier jets to inspect the left and right main landing gear inboard doors for cracks and other damage, including loose or missing fasteners. The directive required operators to remove affected doors and replace them with new or repaired ones, or that the doors be removed and the discrepancy noted in the aircraft’s records.

In this case, American Eagle found such damage on four aircraft. Rather than removing the doors, the airline repaired them while they remained on the planes.

FAA inspectors found that the airline operated at least 961 flights while it was unaware that the situation existed on these aircraft. The FAA further alleges that after the situation was discovered, the airline continued to operate these airplanes on 217 additional flights.

American Eagle subsequently removed the landing gear doors on each of the affected aircraft and repaired them in accordance with the Airworthiness Directive. However, the violations resulted in a proposed civil penalty of $2.9 million.
Commenting on the alleged violations by American Eagle, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said, "Following Airworthiness Directives is not optional."

"The FAA does not hesitate to levy fines if maintenance standards are violated. Compliance with mandatory maintenance requirements ensures the highest levels of safety," Babbitt added.