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Fri, Mar 19, 2010

FAA Proposes $300,000 Civil Penalty Against American Airlines

Second Large Penalty Proposed In Six Days Against The Airline

The FAA announced Thursday that it is proposing a $300,000 civil penalty on American Airlines for a maintenance violation. It is the second such civil penalty proposed in the past six days.

The FAA alleges that on Feb. 2, 2009, American Airlines mechanics deferred maintenance on a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 under the airline’s DC-9 Minimum Equipment List (MEL) by noting that the “pitot/stall heater light off” light on the aircraft’s annunciator panel was inoperative.

However, maintenance personnel determined the next day that the inoperative part was actually the captain’s pitot probe heater. Pitot probes are mounted on the exterior surfaces of an airplane and are used in measuring airspeed. Because they can be affected by a build-up of ice, these devices are equipped with heaters. The airplane’s MEL allows for maintenance on the pitot probe heater to be deferred, but it restricts flights to daytime only, in Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC). It prohibits flights into known or forecast icing or visible moisture.

Because mechanics logged the discrepancy as an inoperative panel light, the flight crew was unaware that the daytime, VMC restrictions applied to further flights. The aircraft was operated on five passenger revenue flights, in violation of Federal Aviation Regulations.

"We expect full compliance with all of our maintenance standards," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. "Safety is our top concern. Maintenance personnel must pay attention to every detail when they are working on an aircraft."

Just six days ago, the FAA proposed over three-quarters of a million dollars in civil penalties against American for maintenance violations.

American Airlines 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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