FAA Cites Continental Airlines $325,000 for Landing Gear Lapse

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed to assess a civil penalty of $325,000 against Continental Airlines Inc. for operating an aircraft on at least a dozen commercial flights without properly maintaining its right main landing gear.

FAA alleges that on Dec. 20, 2008, the crew of a Continental Boeing 737 saw a warning light on the right main landing gear indicator after the gear retracted on a flight from Houston to Los Angeles. After discussing the situation with Continental maintenance control, the crew elected to continue the flight.

However, the flight diverted to Phoenix after the crew noticed the aircraft was burning an excessive amount of fuel. On the ground, Continental maintenance workers inspected the landing gear but did not make a required entry in the aircraft’s maintenance log or any other maintenance record about the abnormal landing gear indication.

FAA alleges the airline operated the aircraft on at least 12 additional passenger flights before the abnormal gear indication was addressed by mechanics, in violation of Federal Aviation Regulations.

“Air carriers cannot let maintenance issues lapse,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “When a problem is discovered, it needs to be corrected immediately.”

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

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