FAA isn’t yielding on major fines


They are not yielding an inch. Or a dollar. The FAA, caught with its pants down in March and April, is standing tough on the record fines it is proposing against two of the nation’s largest airlines. The agency said it would fine American Airlines $7.1 million and a day later told Southwest Airlines that it was intent on collecting a $10.2 million penalty. The Southwest penalty stems from the March revelation that the airline let planes fly without doing the required inspections; at the same time it emerged that some FAA inspectors had winked and nodded at the violations – and that whistleblower warnings about this malfeasance were ignored or punished. House Transportation Committee hearings under chairman Oberstar put the frustrated whistleblowers on show.


The American allegations however are new, and do not stem from the FAA crackdown on American inspection practices in April. Instead, the fines stem from a December 2007 incident in which American allegedly allowed an MD80 to fly with a broken autopilot and also failed to do inspections on other aircraft for emergency lighting; the FAA also says that American didn’t do required drug tests. American said the penalties were excessive and that it would meet with the FAA, but given the agency’s insistence that it will collect the Southwest fine, you’d have to think that the agency is still standing strict and unlikely to yield a inch, penny or dime.

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