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Tue, Feb 02, 2010

FAA Slaps American Eagle With Civil Fines Of Nearly $2.5 Million

Says Airline Did Not Properly Calculate Baggage Weight On 154 Flights

The FAA has proposed a civil penalty totaling almost $2.5 million against American Eagle Airlines for operating flights without adequately ensuring the weight of baggage was properly calculated. "The traveling public has to be confident that airlines are following important safety rules," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "When they are not operating to the highest levels of safety, they are subject to stiff fines."

The FAA alleges that between January and October 2008, American Eagle conducted at least 154 passenger-carrying flights when the baggage weight listed on airplane cargo load sheets disagreed with data entered into the company's Electronic Weight and Balance System. Entry of erroneous data into the weight and balance system results in an incorrect computation of the weight and balance of a particular aircraft. This can potentially lead to faulty calculations for the proper control settings and reference speeds necessary for safe takeoffs and landings.

"Our inspectors are hard at work every day across the country looking for any safety issues at airlines," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. "When we find an apparent violation of our safety rules we conduct an investigation, pursue civil penalties when necessary and require the airline to correct the problems."

The FAA alleges that after the situation was brought to the attention of American Eagle, the company operated at least 39 flights without correcting the problem.  After the FAA's initial investigation, American Eagle took corrective action by revising its Station Operating Manual to ensure that proper weight and balance information is confirmed, pending automation of its cargo load sheets. However, the violations resulted in a proposed civil penalty of $2,475,000.

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

FMI: www.faa.gov

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