WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a $5.4 million civil penalty against US Airways, Inc. for allegedly operating eight aircraft on a total of 1,647 flights from October 2008 to January 2009 while not in compliance with certain Airworthiness Directives (ADs) or the airline’s maintenance program. ADs are rules issued by the FAA when an unsafe condition exists on a type of aircraft, and additional maintenance is required to remedy the problem.
Each year the FAA issues about 250 ADs requiring air carriers to correct potentially unsafe conditions. Compliance deadlines range from immediate action before further flight, to days, months, or years depending on the severity and complexity of the safety issue. Air carriers must fully comply with all of these legally enforceable directives.
The FAA found the following AD non-compliance issues:
• US Airways, Inc. operated one Embraer 190 aircraft on 19 flights from October 22, 2008 to October 26, 2008 while the aircraft was not in compliance with an AD that required inspections to prevent a cargo door from opening during flight.
• The airline failed to perform inspections required by an AD for cracking of a landing gear part on one Airbus A320. The airline operated the aircraft on 26 flights from November 2, 2008 to January 20, 2009 while not in compliance with the AD. The airline also operated another A320 for 17 flights from December 3, 2008 to January 21, 2009 while not in compliance with the same AD. The FAA found the following problems with maintenance practices:
• US Airways, Inc. failed to meet the requirements of its Maintenance Policies and Procedures Manual, which required inspections related to engine work on a Boeing 757 aircraft. The airplane was flown on 505 flights from May 2, 2008 to December 3, 2008.
• From October 20, 2008 to November 14, 2008, US Airways, Inc. operated one Boeing 767 aircraft on 51 flights after failing to perform the inspections, tests, and samplings required by its maintenance program on that aircraft.
• From October 1, 2008 to November 24, 2008, US Airways, Inc. operated one Boeing 757 aircraft on 121 flights without proper maintenance.
• The airline failed to follow its maintenance program and perform a weekly maintenance check for one Boeing 767 aircraft, which was then operated from November 2, 2008 to November 6, 2008 on 53 flights.
• From May 22, 2008 to January 13, 2009, US Airways, Inc. operated one Airbus A320 aircraft on 855 flights while the aircraft did not meet the airline’s maintenance program requirements for an engine repair. US Airways, Inc. could have deferred maintenance of this item for ten days under its maintenance program but failed to do so. Fifty-one of the flights occurred after the FAA, on December 31, 2008, brought the problem to the airline’s attention.
US Airways, Inc. has 30 days from the receipt of the civil penalty letter to respond to the FAA.