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AIRLINES : FAA--Eastern Failed to Make Repairs at Bases

June 24, 1989|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Eastern Airlines has failed to make needed repairs to malfunctioning aircraft equipment, even after repeated complaints by pilots, according to a team of investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration.

In a brief statement Friday, the Department of Transportation said the FAA team has discovered numerous examples of "chronic failure" to correct equipment deficiencies at the strikebound carrier's Miami and Atlanta bases.

"The results indicate that management personnel were allowing aircraft to be moved without adequate corrective action," Joseph Doubleday, the FAA inspection team leader, wrote in a June 7 report to FAA official Roger V. Gordon. "We feel this was driven in part by the intense pressure to meet on-time performance goals of a special incentive program."

A copy of Doubleday's report was obtained by Associated Press.

Eastern disputes the FAA's findings. In a detailed, six-page letter to Gordon sent Thursday, John J. Keyser, Eastern's vice president for regulatory compliance, said Doubleday's report "lacks needed perspective."

Gordon, the FAA manager with lead responsibility for Eastern, was on vacation and was unavailable for comment Friday.

Eastern's unions and others have raised questions about maintenance and safety at the Miami-based airline, which has weathered a crippling strike and a bankruptcy filing since early March.

Doubleday's report said the Miami investigation did not find "fraudulent or forged maintenance documentation as a systemic problem."

However, he said the team, which reviewed records for 29 planes from January, 1988, through May, 1989, discovered problems with Eastern's "continuing analysis and surveillance system." Those problems led to chronic failure to repair deficiencies reported by pilots, the report said.

The report cites 30 examples of repairs that weren't made on different aircraft despite repeated reports.

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