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AMR's Eagle and Continental face possible FAA fines for maintenance flaws

The airlines, which face a combined $605,000 in penalties, have 30 days to respond to the proposed fines. The FAA has stepped up fines on the aviation industry after being accused of inaction.

December 23, 2010|Bloomberg News

AMR Corp.'s American Eagle regional carrier and Continental Airlines face a combined $605,000 in possible fines for maintenance flaws, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Eagle, based in Fort Worth, may be penalized $330,000 after inspectors found that it had flown two planes with seats that would not stow into the upright and locked position, the agency said Wednesday.

Continental, part of Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc., faces a $275,000 fine after operating two Boeing Co. 737-900ER planes on 73 flights with incorrect landing gear wheel-tire assemblies installed, according to the FAA. Both carriers have 30 days to respond to the proposed fines.

"We disagree" with the proposed FAA penalty, AMR spokesman Tim Smith said in an e-mail. "The amount proposed is excessive."

Eagle executives will meet with the FAA to discuss the case, he said.

Mary Clark, a Continental spokeswoman, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The FAA under President Obama has increased fines on the aviation industry compared with President George W. Bush's term, federal data show. The FAA proposed $77.4 million in fines in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, Obama's first full fiscal year in office. That's up 66% from the $46.7 million proposed for the year ended Sept. 30, 2008, when Bush was in office.

Democrats complained of inaction under Bush. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.) faulted the FAA in 2008 for "a carrier-favorable, cozy relationship" after his panel found that Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co. missed certain inspections of Boeing 737s.

The FAA proposed a record $24.2-million fine against American Airlines in August for alleged maintenance flaws that grounded a fleet of Boeing Co. MD-80s in 2008. American is appealing.

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