WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a $2.9 million civil penalty against American Eagle Airlines for operating more than 1,000 flights using airplanes on which improper repairs were performed on landing gear doors.
The FAA alleges that between February and May 2008, American Eagle conducted at least 1,178 passenger-carrying flights using four Bombardier jets with main landing gear doors that had not been repaired in accordance with an Airworthiness Directive that became effective in August 2006.
“Safety is our number one priority at the Department of Transportation,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “And airlines must know that if safety is compromised, they will be subject to stiff fines.”
“Following Airworthiness Directives is not optional,’’ said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “The FAA does not hesitate to levy fines if maintenance standards are violated. Compliance with mandatory maintenance requirements ensures the highest levels of safety.”
Airworthiness Directive 2006-14-05 required operators of certain Bombardier jets to inspect the left and right main landing gear inboard doors for cracks and other damage, including loose or missing fasteners. The directive required operators to remove affected doors and replace them with new or repaired ones, or that the doors be removed and the discrepancy noted in the aircraft’s records.
In this case, American Eagle found such damage on four aircraft. Rather than removing the doors, the airline repaired them while they remained on the planes.
FAA inspectors found that the airline operated at least 961 flights while it was unaware that the situation existed on these aircraft. The FAA further alleges that after the situation was discovered, the airline continued to operate these airplanes on 217 additional flights.
American Eagle subsequently removed the landing gear doors on each of the affected aircraft and repaired them in accordance with the Airworthiness Directive. However, the violations resulted in a proposed civil penalty of $2.9 million.
American Eagle has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s civil penalty letter to respond to the agency.