FAA Proposes $44,000 Fine
FAA investigators claim
to have compiled an inch-thick file on a 1999 complaint about a
burned-out bulb in a "no smoking, fasten seat belt" sign onboard a
The accumulating paper shuffle ended only after the airline paid
a $3,000 fine to settle the complaint, the Gannett News Service
reported on Monday.
The hearing in Federal Aviation Administration v. Comair was to
start Thursday; four years after the case began. The agency's beef
against Comair: A burnt-out light bulb, worth 77 cents, in a no
smoking-fasten seat belt sign. The FAA's proposed fine:
According to documents obtained in a Freedom of Information Act
request by Gannett, the problem started Sept. 17, 1999, on a flight
from Long Island to Cincinnati. An off-duty FAA inspector was on
the flight and noticed that the first-row "no smoking" sign wasn't
working. She reported it to a flight attendant, who then reported
the issue to the Captain, who did not immediately log the burnt-out
bulb so maintenance crews could fix it.
The bulb was replaced two days later. But Comair flew the plane
four times with the light out, violating three separate FAA
regulations, since the FAA case summary claimed the jet was "not in
an airworthy condition,"
In April 2003, the FAA announced its proposed fine: $11,000 for
each trip, $44,000 total.
"It's not simply the fact the light was out, but the follow-up
actions required were not taken," an FAA spokesperson told the news
Comair appealed the fine to the Department of Transportation. By
Nov. 13, the two sides had settled with Comair paying a $3,000
fine. Light-bulb violations don't come up often, said Douglas
Burdette, an aviation safety inspector at the FAA office in
Oklahoma City that handles violation data.
But even he acknowledged: "That seems like a pretty heavy