FAA fines American $787,500 for maintenance violations

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Officials from the US FAA are seeking to collect $787,500 in fines from American Airlines for three instances of maintenance violations.

The agency's decision follows the publication by the US Department of Transportation's Inspector General reviewing FAA's oversight of American's maintenance. The analysis showed an increase in maintenance-related events, a rise in maintenance deferrals and a lack of following procedures required for maintenance inspections.

The bulk of the fine - $625,000 - stems from American's mechanics in April 2008 failing to replace one of two central air data computers (CADCs) on a MD-80 after problems with the equipment were uncovered.

FAA explains that instead of replacing the computer, mechanics improperly deferred maintenance using the minimum equipment list (MEL), noting that the auto-throttles were inoperative. The agency says the MEL does not allow deferral of an inoperative CADC.

 american airlines md-80

 
   

American subsequently completed 10 passenger flights with the aircraft before the computer was replaced, and during that time the pilots were led to believe both computers were working properly.

FAA is proposing a $75,000 fine after it determined that in March 2008 American failed to correctly follow an airworthiness directive requiring the inspection of rudder components on certain Boeing 757 aircraft. The agency determined four 757s operated by American did not comply with requirements of the directive.

The agency states after American was advised about the 757 situation, the carrier said it would stop operating the aircraft until the repairs were completed. But during the following two days, FAA says American flew two of the aircraft on a total of three passenger flights.

Another MD-80 incident in May 2009 has resulted in a proposed penalty of $87,500. An aircraft was returned to service even though several steps of a scheduled B-check were not checked off as completed. Mechanics also replaced a landing gear door without noting it in the aircraft logbook.

American completed two passenger flights with the logbook error, and FAA says an inspection it completed of the aircraft revealed several discrepancies in the tail section, including loose screws, a missing nut plate and a right hand elevator torque tube binding and making noise. FAA says American has 30 days from the receipt of its civil penalty letter to respond to the agency. American was not immediately available for comment.