The Federal Aviation Administration is proposing a fine against Dallas-based Southwest Airlines for flying an aircraft that had been improperly modified.
According to the FAA, a $325,000 penalty is being considered after a switch designed to test a windshield heating system was improperly installed on a Boeing 717 in use by AirTran Airways.
"Proper installation of the switch would have allowed personnel to isolate the windshield anti-ice system that was causing a warning that the windshield heater was failing. Instead, the center and left windshield warning systems were reversed. The right windshield warning system continued to operate properly. The aircraft was operated on 1,140 passenger flights before the problem was corrected," the FAA said in a news release.
Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King said the installation error didn't compromise safety because it was an extra system. The primary system for alerting crews to a potential window-heater malfunction was still working. The mistake was immediately fixed upon discovery.
Southwest, who is in the process of merging with AirTran, has 30 days to respond to the FAA's penalty letter.