WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a $348,000 civil penalty against Chautauqua Airlines for allegedly operating some of its regional jets without performing inspections required by five different FAA airworthiness directives (ADs).
FAA investigations found that problems with Chautauqua’s management of its maintenance program and its system for tracking the status of airworthiness directives led to the alleged violations.
One AD compliance issue involved mandated repetitive inspections for possible cracks in the lower wing planks of Canadair Regional Jets (CRJ) after every 5,000 flights. The FA alleges that:
• Eight different Chautauqua CRJs conducted more than 9,900 flights between October 2007 and December 2008 before the required lower wing inspections were done.
• In January 2009, the airline operated another CRJ on 231 flights without inspecting a different section of the lower wings for cracks and flew a different CRJ for 61 hours without a required inspection of electrical relays.
• Another Chautauqua CRJ made more than 17,600 flights between November 2007 and January 2009 before mandatory inspections of the plane’s GE engines were performed. Chautauqua also flew one of its Embraer 145 regional jets for 43 days past the time one of its inertial navigation units should have been replaced.
“An air carrier’s maintenance program can’t function without a good system to determine compliance with airworthiness directives,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “Problems with the AD system are inconsistent with an airline’s continued safe operation.”
Chautauqua has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s civil penalty letter to respond to the agency.