More Fines Coming for American

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Federal regulators are proposing more maintenance-related penalties against American Airlines.

    The Federal Aviation Administration said it would fine American $787,500 for three cases of alleged maintenance problems. 

    Airline spokesman Tim Smith said American was reviewing the FAA charges and will meet with regulators to discuss the proposed penalties.

    "American Airlines is very proud of our safety record and our employees' commitment to safety every day," Smith said.

    On Friday, the FAA's Lynn Lunsford released the following information in regard to the fines.

    The first case -- Fine: $625,000 (Read the letter)

    The first offense occurred in April 2008, the FAA alleges American Airlines mechanics diagnosed problems with one of two Central Air Data Computers (CADCs) on a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 jetliner. Instead of replacing the computer, mechanics improperly deferred this maintenance under the airline’s DC-9 Minimum Equipment List (MEL) by noting that the auto-throttles were inoperative.

    The MEL, however, does not allow deferral of an inoperative CADC.

    The airline subsequently flew the plane on 10 passenger flights before the computer was replaced. During this time, flight crews were led to believe that both computers were working properly.

    The second case -- Fine: $75,000 (Read the letter)

    In the second case, the FAA found that in March 2008, American failed to correctly follow an Airworthiness Directive involving the inspection of rudder components on certain Boeing 757 aircraft. As a result, four 757s operated by American Airlines did not comply with the requirements of the Airworthiness Directive.

    The FAA alleges that after American was advised of the situation, the company said it would cease flying the planes until they were repaired. However, during the following two days, the airline flew two of the planes on a total of three passenger flights.

    The third case -- Fine: $87,500 (Read the letter)

    In the final case, the FAA alleges that in May 2009, American’s mechanics returned an MD-82 aircraft to service, even though several steps of a scheduled B-check maintenance visit had not been checked off as completed. The airline also replaced a landing gear door without noting it in the aircraft’s logbook. 

    The aircraft was operated on two passenger flights with the logbook error. An FAA inspection of the aircraft revealed several discrepancies in the tail section, including loose screws, a missing nut plate and a right hand elevator torque tube binding and making noise.  

    The fine proposed Friday is the latest in a series of penalties American faces for maintenance violations.

    According to people familiar with the situation, the FAA is close to proposing a multimillion penalty against American for failing to properly secure wiring in its large fleet of MD-80 series aircraft.

    In 2008, the FAA ordered American to pay a $7.1 million fine for a variety of violations, including making 58 flights with two jets that had problems with their autopilot systems. Regulators and airline officials are still discussing that case.

    This year, the FAA proposed two separate penalties totaling $5.4 million against American's regional carrier, American Eagle. In one case, regulators said mechanics didn't follow government standards on repairing landing gear doors. In the other, they said Eagle didn't make sure crews had accurate information about baggage loads and a few planes were too heavy for safe takeoff.

    American has characterized many of the FAA's charges as paperwork and not related to safety. The airline also claims it is the only U.S. carrier that does all of its own major maintenance work while others have outsourced jobs.

    American has 30 days to respond.

    NBC DFW's Scott Friedman contributed to this report.