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Delta faces stiff fines over alleged delayed repairs

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 6:34 PM EDT, Wed July 11, 2012
Delta Air Lines faces almost $1 million in fines for allegedly failing to make required repairs to planes.
Delta Air Lines faces almost $1 million in fines for allegedly failing to make required repairs to planes.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Delta Airlines allegedly flew two jetliners without making required repairs
  • One, a Boeing 737, flew with a chipped nose cone
  • The other, an Airbus A320, flew 884 times with an unrepaired cockpit light socket

Washington (CNN) -- Delta Air Lines faces almost $1 million in fines for allegedly flying two jetliners without making required repairs, including repairs to the chipped nose cone of a Boeing 737, the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday.

In the case of the 737, an FAA inspector noticed the chips during a pre-flight inspection of the aircraft in February 2010, and brought it to the attention of the plane's captain. The chips -- in the radome, which houses weather radar and navigational equipment -- were deep enough to show the underlying fiberglass, the FAA said.

When the captain notified the airline's maintenance center in Atlanta, maintenance officials told the FAA inspector the damage was acceptable and no more maintenance was required.

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After conducting additional research, the FAA inspector concluded that repairs were required, and said Delta had wrongly flown the plane 20 times in the five days following the discovery of the damage.

The FAA has proposed to fine Delta $687,500 for the alleged infraction of FAA rules.

The FAA also is proposing a $300,000 fine against Delta for operating an Airbus A320 on 884 flights in 2010 and 2011 after it allegedly deferred repair of a broken cockpit floodlight socket. Maintenance procedures allow one of the four dome lights in the assembly to be inoperative for no more than 10 days, but the airline flew the plane for seven months with the broken equipment, the FAA said.

"Safety is our highest priority," FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement about the proposed fines. "Operators must follow the proper procedures to maintain their aircraft."

Delta issued a statement Wednesday saying, "The safety and security of our customers and crew is Delta's highest core value. At no time was either of these aircraft operating in an unsafe manner. Once Delta verified the concerns of the FAA, Delta initiated immediate and necessary actions to ensure that the aircraft were in full compliance with the regulatory requirements."

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CNN's Dave Alsup contributed to this report.

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