US Airways Maintenance Fine

C Festerpuss

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FAA proposes fines for US Airways, United

By Linda Loyd
Inquirer Staff Writer
The Federal Aviation Administration said yesterday that it had proposed fines totaling $9.2 million against US Airways and United Airlines for flying planes that did not comply with FAA safety directives or the airlines' own maintenance procedures. US Airways Group Inc. could be fined $5.4 million in a proposed civil penalty for operating eight aircraft on 1,647 flights from October 2008 to January 2009 that did not comply with FAA airworthiness directives or the airline's maintenance program.
United, whose parent is UAL Corp., could be fined $3.8 million for flying one of its Boeing 737 jets on more than 200 flights between February and April 2008 with shop towels covering the oil sump area on one engine instead of protective caps, a violation of its own maintenance procedures.
The FAA gave the airlines 30 days to respond. Carriers typically try to negotiate with the FAA to pay less than the proposed fines.
The largest civil penalty ever paid to the FAA, $7.5 million, came in March from Southwest Airlines Co., for operating planes that missed mandatory safety inspections for cracked fuselages.
The proposed fines against US Airways and United are among the largest in recent years, said FAA spokesman Les Dorr.
The agency issues about 250 safety directives a year requiring airlines to correct potentially unsafe conditions. But fines are usually much smaller - thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In a memo yesterday to employees, US Airways said the FAA's proposed penalty was for "challenges" that were now in the past.
"We've fixed these issues. We're running an incredibly safe and on-time airline," said chief operating officer Robert Isom.
US Airways, of Tempe, Ariz., is this region's dominant airline, transporting two-thirds of the passengers on 422 daily flights at Philadelphia International Airport.
US Airways declined to give specifics on whether any of the planes or flights had operated out of Philadelphia.
The FAA cited US Airways for these violations:
Operating one Embraer 190 aircraft on 19 flights when it was not in compliance with inspections to prevent a cargo door from opening during flight.


Failing to perform required inspections for cracking of a landing-gear part on two Airbus A320 aircraft used on a total of 43 flights.

Failing to perform required engine-work inspections on a Boeing 757 that was flown on 505 flights.

Failing to perform maintenance inspections, tests, and samplings on a Boeing 767 used on 51 flights.

Lack of proper maintenance of a Boeing 757 used on 121 flights.

Failing to perform a weekly maintenance check on another Boeing 767 used on 53 flights.

Delaying engine repair on an Airbus A320 used on 855 flights.



Fifty-one of the trips occurred after the FAA brought the problem to US Airways' attention Dec. 31, 2008, the agency said.


Isom said US Airways had worked with the FAA to investigate and correct "any discrepancies." He said the problems stemmed from "challenges we faced" after the 2005 merger of America West Airlines and US Airways, when the two maintenance programs were integrated.
"The integration [of the two airlines] presented some challenges in the areas of inspection and records during 2007, 2008, and early 2009," Isom said. "Over the past nine months, we and the FAA have completed a formal review of our aircraft-maintenance tracking systems, as well as a comprehensive review of our maintenance program."
In 2008, the FAA proposed a $10.2 million fine against Southwest, Philadelphia's second-largest carrier, for operating 46 Boeing 737s on 59,791 flights in 2006 and 2007 without full inspections for fuselage cracks.
Southwest disputed the fine. After negotiations, it agreed to pay $7.5 million.
In the spring of 2008, after safety inspections were missed at Southwest, the FAA ordered maintenance-record audits at all domestic airlines.
In September 2008, the FAA said 11 U.S. carriers faced investigations and possible fines for not following safety directives. The agency did not identify the airlines.
The FAA has been criticized by members of Congress for a cozy relationship with airlines that interferes with vigilant safety enforcement.


Commentary: When you have that many items across the entire fleet it indicates a problem with maintenance tracking. The current system is a mess and none of the East mechanics like it. I am not sure of the West guys but the tracking system is tedious and error prone, hence the poor results of this audit. Isom's remarks are B.S. The violations occurred from Oct. 08 to Jan 09 a very short time to chalk up that number of incidents. All the maintenance integration issues of East and West have long been completed since the 2005 merger.
 

Colonel Savage

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"...He said the problems stemmed from "challenges we faced" after the 2005 merger of America West Airlines and US Airways..."

Parker and Kirby are obviously incompetent and should be replaced.
 
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