FAA seeks $9.2M US Airways, United fines

Oct. 15, 2009 at 2:01 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- A U.S. regulator proposed $9.2 million in fines against US Airways Group Inc. and United Airlines for flying jets that didn't comply with rules and regulations.

The Federal Aviation Administration recommended a $5.4 million civil penalty against US Airways for allegedly flying eight planes on 1,647 flights from October 2008 to January 2009 while falling short of its own maintenance procedures and FAA airworthiness directives, the agency said.

The agency also urged a $3.8 million penalty against United, a UAL Corp. subsidiary, for allegedly flying a Boeing Co. 737 on more than 200 flights after violating its own procedures by using shop towels instead of required protective caps during maintenance on an engine, the FAA said.

In April 2008, a United 737 returned to Denver after pilots shut down an engine because of low oil-pressure readings, the FAA said.

United mechanics later found that during maintenance four months earlier, towels were left in the No. 1 and No. 2 bearing compartments of the oil sump area, violating United policies, the agency said.

US Airways said in response that the carrier has since made changes that "improved upon an already solid maintenance program."

United said it "immediately reported" the shop towel incident to the FAA and took other measures to ensure it met its "highest standards for safety." The airlines have 30 days to provide formal responses to the agency, which regulates and oversees all aspects of U.S. civil aviation.

The FAA collected a record $7.5 million from Southwest Airlines Co. in March for failing to inspect aircraft fuselages in 2006 and 2007.

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