Tuesday, April 27, 2010

FAA fine season continues: Chautauqua Airlines nailed with $348,000 penalty

by B. N. Sullivan

Chautauqua AirlinesThe U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a $348,000 civil penalty against Chautauqua Airlines, alleging that the airline operated some of its regional jets without performing inspections required by five different FAA airworthiness directives (ADs).

From the FAA press release about the proposed fine:
FAA investigations found that problems with Chautauqua’s management of its maintenance program and its system for tracking the status of airworthiness directives led to the alleged violations.

One AD compliance issue involved mandated repetitive inspections for possible cracks in the lower wing planks of Canadair Regional Jets (CRJ) after every 5,000 flights. The FA alleges that:
  • Eight different Chautauqua CRJs conducted more than 9,900 flights between October 2007 and December 2008 before the required lower wing inspections were done.
  • In January 2009, the airline operated another CRJ on 231 flights without inspecting a different section of the lower wings for cracks and flew a different CRJ for 61 hours without a required inspection of electrical relays.
  • Another Chautauqua CRJ made more than 17,600 flights between November 2007 and January 2009 before mandatory inspections of the plane’s GE engines were performed. Chautauqua also flew one of its Embraer 145 regional jets for 43 days past the time one of its inertial navigation units should have been replaced.
Commenting on the proposed penalty against Chautauqua, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said, “An air carrier’s maintenance program can’t function without a good system to compliance with airworthiness directives. Problems with the AD system are inconsistent with an airline’s continued safe operation.”

Chautauqua, which is a subsidiary of Republic Airways, has 30 days to respond to the allegations.