United States Files Civil Penalty Action Against American Airlines for Violations of Federal Aircraft Safety Regulations
Complaint Seeks in Excess of $1 Million in Civil Penalties
ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and MANNY WEISS, Acting Regional Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA"), Eastern Region, today announced the filing of a federal civil action against AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC. for multiple violations of federal regulations regarding aircraft safety promulgated by the FAA.1 AMERICAN AIRLINES, a major commercial air carrier headquartered in Texas, operates commercial passenger airline services throughout the United States, as well as abroad.
According to the complaint filed today in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, on November 17, 2003, an FAA Inspector who was traveling as a passenger on an American Airlines flight between Orlando International Airport in Florida, and LaGuardia Airport in New York, observed fuel leaking from the wing of the aircraft, a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 passenger jet, in the course of the flight. The Inspector reported his observation to the flight crew, and pointed out the location of the leak to the pilot of the aircraft following its arrival in New York. Despite the Inspector's warning, American Airlines took no action to adequately inspect, repair, or maintain the aircraft and correct the leak -- rendering the aircraft un-airworthy -- and failed even to note the Inspector's report of a leak in the maintenance logs as required by FAA regulations. Instead, American Airlines chose to fly the plane on an additional 53 commercial flights, deferring appropriate action until December 2, 2003, when the plane underwent a regularly scheduled intensive maintenance check. In the course of that maintenance check, the complaint alleges that a fuel leak was discovered in the same area that had been reported by the FAA Inspector weeks earlier.
The government alleges that on 53 commercial flights American Airlines failed to comply with FAA regulations which forbid the operation of an aircraft in an un-airworthy condition, that its operation of those flights was in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the lives and property of others, and that American Airlines violated multiple FAA regulations governing maintenance and record-keeping with respect to the leak. Accordingly, the complaint seeks more than $1 million in civil penalties and injunctive relief sufficient to assure that American Airlines complies with the applicable standards of safety, maintenance, and record-keeping.
"These violations reflect a disregard for the safety of passengers and the regulations that exist to safeguard our skies," stated United States Attorney MAUSKOPF. "Betrayal of the public trust vested in air carriers licensed by the FAA will be answered by vigorous enforcement of our laws."
The government's case is being litigated by Assistant United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha, and Zachary Berman of the FAA.
1 Congress directed the FAA to promote the safe flight of civil aircraft by prescribing regulations and minimum standards in the interest of safety. Title 49, United States Code, Section 44701. In accordance with its statutory mandate, the FAA promulgated a comprehensive code of regulations governing aircraft safety, operation, and maintenance.
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