Airline Investigating Claims Planes Flew Out Of
The Federal Aviation
Administration has determined regional airline American Eagle flew
its planes in violation of federal weight and balance guidelines at
least 19 times in the past five months, according to an ABC News
Citing 'sources in the aviation industry,' ABC states the FAA's
investigation began after the airline self-reported two incidents
in which planes may have taken off outside of the accepted weight
and balance envelope. No incidents occurred due to the apparent
violations, though everyone agrees it's a very serious matter.
"When you talk about the performance for weight and balance it
is critical, it will get you killed, which is why it's so strictly
controlled," said Jack Eppard of the Air Line Pilots
A concern on all aircraft -- as private pilots can attest to --
weight and balance is particularly important on smaller regional
aircraft, which due to their size are more sensitive to improper
loading than larger airliners. Overloading and an out-of-range aft
CG were cited as contributing factors to the January 2003 downing
on takeoff of an US Airways Express/Air Midwest Beechcraft 1900D in
Charlotte, NC, that killed all 21 persons onboard and injured one
person on the ground.
American Eagle admits it is investigating "several
cases" where planes may have flown in violation of weight
and balance guidelines. Airlines spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said
the faults were due to discrepancies between manual baggage loading
lists, and the computer program used to calculate weight and
balance restrictions on the planes.
When asked whether those problems could pose a safety issue,
Huguely disconcertingly replied "I don't know"... before adding the
airline's planes have redundant safety systems in place, "and we
feel as though we always fly safe planes."
Sources within the FAA tell ABC the agency is now determining
whether to impose any fines or penalties on American Eagle...
though an agency spokesman had no official comment.
"We don't comment on ongoing investigations which may or may not
result in enforcement actions. When enforcement actions are taken,
that information is available to the public," said spokesman Roland
This isn't the first time this year the American Airlines
regional subsidiary has been at odds with a federal agency. As ANN reported, in August a
TSA inspector reported he was able to gain access to seven of nine
parked American Eagle planes on the ground at O'Hare
International... by grabbing the fragile air temperature probes on
the outside of the fuselages to pull himself up to unlocked
The airline delayed 40 flights to check for damage, after its
own employees observed the inspector, and warned maintenance
officials. The TSA later retaliated against the airline, stating it
"consistently found problems" with American Eagle at ORD and that
it planned to impose fines.