FAA Proposes $787,500 Fine for American Airlines

The proposed fines address a series of three maintenance violations that took place from March 2008 to May 2009.

The Federal Aviation Administration is seeking to collect three proposed civil penalties totaling $787,500 from American Airlines for maintenance violations. In the first case, which occurred in April 2008, FAA alleges American Airlines mechanics diagnosed problems with one of two Central Air Data Computers (CADCs) on a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 jetliner. Instead of replacing the computer, mechanics improperly deferred this maintenance under the airline’s DC-9 Minimum Equipment List (MEL) by noting the auto-throttles were inoperative. The MEL, however, does not allow deferral of an inoperative CADC.

The airline subsequently flew the plane on 10 passenger flights before the computer was replaced. During this time, flight crews allegedly were led to believe both computers were working properly. FAA proposes a civil penalty of $625,000 in this case.

In the second case, FAA found that in March 2008, American failed to correctly follow an Airworthiness Directive involving the inspection of rudder components on certain Boeing 757 aircraft. As a result, four 757s operated by American Airlines did not comply with the requirements of the Airworthiness Directive. The FAA alleges after American was advised of the situation, the company said it would cease flying the planes until they were repaired, but during the following two days, the airline flew two of the planes on three passenger flights. The FAA is seeking a penalty of $75,000 in this case.

In the final case, FAA alleges that in May 2009, American's mechanics returned an MD-82 aircraft to service, even though several steps of a scheduled B-check maintenance visit had not been checked off as completed. The airline also replaced a landing gear door without noting it in the aircraft's logbook. The aircraft was operated on two passenger flights with the logbook error. An FAA inspection of the aircraft revealed several discrepancies in the tail section, including loose screws, a missing nut plate, and a right hand elevator torque tube binding and making noise. As a result of these discrepancies, the FAA proposes a civil penalty of $87,500.

American Airlines has 30 days from the receipt of FAA's civil penalty letter to respond to the agency.

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