Wednesday, December 22, 2010

FAA fines Continental Airlines and American Eagle for maintenance issues

by B. N. Sullivan

FAA logoThe U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed civil penalties -- i.e., fines -- against both Continental Airlines and American Eagle Airlines for operating passenger aircraft that were not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations.

A $275,000 fine is proposed against Continental for operating two non-compliant Boeing 737-900ER aircraft on 73 flights.
The FAA alleges Continental mechanics failed to follow the 737 Airplane Maintenance Manual when they installed incorrect main landing gear wheel-tire assemblies on two aircraft and released them for service on Nov. 7 and 19, 2009.

The manual contains specific instructions to mechanics not to use wheel-tire assemblies intended for the B-737-700, -800 and -900 on the heavier B-737-900ER.  The manual says using the incorrect assemblies on the heavier version of the B-737 might lead to damage to the aircraft or injury to people working on and around the aircraft.
A fine of $330,000 is proposed against American Eagle for operating a non-compliant Embraer 135 aircraft on 12 revenue passenger flights.
The FAA alleges American Eagle mechanics failed to note broken passenger seats and armrests on two aircraft during a Dec. 18, 2008 inspection and did not follow the approved maintenance manual instructions during those inspections.  FAA inspectors discovered seats on two aircraft that would not raise and stow into the upright and locked position for takeoffs and landings.  FAA inspectors also found damaged center arm rests that would not stow in the upright and locked position.

The FAA further alleges that American Eagle used one of the aircraft on 12 revenue passenger flights between the inspection and eventual repair of the seats and armrests.  The other aircraft did not fly again until the airline completed the required work.
The airlines have 30 days to respond to the FAA.