FAA Levels $777,000 Penalty Against Horizon Air

The proposed civil penalty was assessed for carrying out 49,870 flights with aircraft not incompliance with Federal Aviation Regulations, according to the agency.

The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed a $777,000 civil penalty against Horizon Air Industries, part of the Alaska Air Group, for allegedly operating 32 Bombardier Dash-8-400 turboprop planes on 49,870 flights more than two years ago when those aircraft did not comply with Federal Aviation Regulations, according to the agency's Dec. 9 announcement.

FAA said Horizon installed a new external lighting system on those aircraft "but did not conduct required tests for radio frequency and electromagnetic interference before returning the aircraft to service." The flights took place between Oct. 19, 2009 and Mar. 17, 2010, "before the FAA discovered the compliance problems during routine surveillance. Horizon immediately completed tests and inspections of all 32 aircraft before further flights," FAA said.

"We're working with the FAA to resolve [the penalty]," airline spokeswoman Marianne Lindsey said Dec. 12, adding that the airline first learned of the penalty on Dec. 9. She said the lighting system was installed on the wings of those 32 planes and would cause the wing-mounted lights to pulse on and off, increasing the planes' visibility and reducing the incidence of bird strikes. The installation began in 2008 and the error that caused them to be installed incorrectly and two required tests not to be done was discovered in March 2010, she confirmed, at which point the airline immediately stopped using the lights and tested them. They were found to be working correctly, she said.

Horizon Air became a sister company to Seattle-based Alaska Air in 1987. FAA said Horizon has 30 days from its receipt of the civil penalty letter to respond.

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