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FAA levies more fines against American Eagle regional airline

From Mike M. Ahlers, CNN
American Eagle, based in Fort Worth, Texas, is a regional affiliate of American Airlines.
American Eagle, based in Fort Worth, Texas, is a regional affiliate of American Airlines.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • FAA seeks $2.9 million from Texas-based regional affiliate of American Airlines
  • FAA: Aircraft with bad repairs on landing gear doors used on more than 1,100 flights
  • FAA also has proposed $2.5 million fine for flights without proper baggage weight check
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Washington (CNN) -- The Federal Aviation Administration Wednesday proposed a $2.9 million fine against American Eagle Airlines for allegedly conducting more than 1,100 flights using planes with landing-gear doors that had not been repaired as prescribed by the FAA.

The proposed fine comes just weeks after the FAA proposed a $2.5 million fine against the airline for allegedly operating flights without adequately ensuring that the weight of baggage was properly calculated.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based American Eagle -- a regional affiliate of American Airlines -- flew four Bombardier regional jets on more than 1,100 flights between February and May 2008, with main landing-gear doors that had not been repaired as ordered by the FAA in August 2006, the FAA said.

"Following Airworthiness Directives [repair orders] is not optional," FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement. "The FAA does not hesitate to levy fines if maintenance standards are violated."

American Eagle responded that it was disappointed in the FAA's actions, saying the airline did not endanger the public and it considered a fine unwarranted.

The repair order required airlines to inspect landing-gear doors and take necessary action, fixing the doors or replacing them with new ones. In this case, American Eagle found damage on four aircraft, but rather than removing the doors as required, the airline repaired them while they remained on the planes.

American Eagle said it self-disclosed to the FAA that repairs were performed while the landing-gear doors remained on the aircraft, a process that the FAA and the aircraft manufacturer subsequently approved, the company said. American Eagle subsequently removed the landing-gear doors on each of the affected aircraft and repaired them in accordance with the Airworthiness Directive.

The airline said it will meet with the FAA to discuss the matter.

The proposed fines are the latest in a string of multimillion dollar fines the FAA has proposed against airlines for failing to follow repair orders. In October, the FAA proposed to fine US Airways $5.4 million and United $3.8 million for other maintenance violations.

In March, Southwest Airlines agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle a complaint that it flew unsafe planes.