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Continental Airlines may have to pay a $230,000 fine for allegedly operating a Boeing 767 on 22 flights when it was not in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

The FAA alleges that on Aug. 12, 2008, the Houston carrier replaced the nose landing gear wheel and tire assembly on a 767 but didn't install a required axle washer despite warnings in the maintenance manual and on the tire assembly itself.

The warning said failing to install the washer could lead to failure of the wheel bearing.

In a letter sent to Continental last week, the FAA said that on Aug. 27, 2008, Continental discovered the axle washer was missing.

At that point, it had operated the airplane on 22 flights since Aug. 12.

Continental has 30 days from receipt of the penalty letter to respond to the agency.

"We are currently reviewing the FAA's allegations. These are isolated incidents from over two years ago that have since been resolved," said Continental spokeswoman Julie King.