Tue, Dec 30, 2008
Agency Hasn't Collected On Fines For Oversights
At least one 2008 aviation story will produce a New Year's
hangover in 2009. The FAA still hasn't settled up with Southwest
Airlines and AMR's American Airlines for those carriers' infamous
breaches of safety regulations.
Even as Southwest fights
a record $10.2 million fine assessed by the
FAA for missing fatigue-crack inspections on its 737s -- and
American execs worry their fine may be even higher after
wiring bundles were routed through MD-80 landing gear wells
with inadequate clearance -- the industry appears to
have tightened internal controls on compliance.
The Wall Street Journal reports that just eight months after its
scandal, Southwest is investing close to a million dollars to
update its maintenance manuals, and has created a
maintenance-compliance team to alert senior Southwest executives
about possible new oversights.
As ANN reported, Southwest did not pay its
fine by the August 29 due date... in what looked at the time like
open defiance of the FAA. More recently, FAA officials have said
negotiations are still in progress, and the case has not been
turned over to the US Justice Department.
American, which had its entire MD-80 fleet grounded by the FAA
in April over the wiring issues, and some of the aging planes
grounded again over the summer to check for fatigue cracks, has
already lost millions in revenue and passenger compensation for
resulting cancellations of over 3,000 flights. The Journal reports
execs privately fear the FAA fines may reach $20-$30 million.
Tighter oversight of maintenance has since resulted in the
replacement of a senior maintenance official last month, special
training sessions for mechanics, and new paperwork documenting
maintenance manual references. Two mechanics have already been
suspended following the tighter scrutiny, and several more are
under investigation, all related to procedures used to replace
airliner nosegear tires.
American and the FAA declined to comment on that case, but
unidentified insiders told the journal the airline will argue its
remedial measures should be acknowledged with reduced
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