August 26th, 2010
02:15 PM ET

FAA proposes record civil fine against American Airlines

The FAA has proposed a $24 million fine against American Airlines, which would be the largest civil penalty in the agency's history.

The FAA said the fine was because of American Airlines' "failing to correctly follow an Airworthiness Directive involving the maintenance of its McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft."

“We put rules and regulations in place to keep the flying public safe,”  U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a press release. “We expect operators to perform inspections and conduct regular and required maintenance in order to prevent safety issues. There can be no compromises when it comes to safety.”

soundoff (99 Responses)
  1. Cate

    So, let me get this straight.... Southwest flies their 737's with cracks in the fuselage and the get fined 10 million. AA has a wiring issue where the clip that holds the wires together was a millimeter off and they get fined 24 million. Think SW issue was more severe to the flying safety than a freakin' clip being misaligned, but what do I know. Still will fly AA over SW any day of the week!

    Jim SW better service, no fees, ower prices, and cracked fuselages... No thanks.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jim

    The problem with fining companies for this stuff is that ultimately punishes the little shareholders and raises prices to the consumer. If the executive and managers were held accountable by heavily fining them personally and if they did some jail time for serious violations, maybe they would follow the rules and have some consideration for the people that actually pay them, which is their customers. They take bonuses by skirting the law.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Fatso

    Good thing the FAA is there to catch things like this before we find out about it the hard way. As for the fines, grounding the planes would have the same effect as the fines. It's still a loss of profit, be it all at once due to a fine or over a period of cancelled flights and re-routes. These planes were previously grounded and obviously that didn't work so maybe a fine will.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. CLay

    The AD in question is totally trivial, they want the wiring bundles 1 inch apart, AA put them 1.5 inches apart....which is safer by the way. This massive government is desperate to justify its existence.....Thats all this is about...a pure show

    August 26, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. paul

    I believe that a fine could raise the airlines extra charges to the public. However the government should put a stipulation in that no additional fares or additional charges should be asked of the general public if this occurrs. An easier way to enforce policy is just use the system that China uses to punish business executives in case there is a threat to Human Safety. That will really send a message.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Scott G

    AA sucks - avoid flying with them at all costs !!

    August 26, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Callmenuts

    It's about time the FAA knuckle down on one of the more unregulated, corrupt industries in the U.S.. Hit their pocketbooks, where it really hurts!

    August 26, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Chris

    These fines are political window dressings. Airlines just pass the costs to the ticket buyers and do NOTHING to protect the flying public.

    How about something better. Random inspections of aircraft AND monthly verification and inspection of the airlines maintenance logs. Failure to perform necessary maintenance by an airline – stop the planes from until fully corrected and re-inspected and approved by the FAA. That will hurt the airlines – not the flying public and insure safety is being upheld.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. what ever

    Yeah baby...!!!! I just Loooooove it when AA gets HAMMERED.!
    Really hope oneday SOON they go banckrupt and actually FOLD.

    I can dream right.!

    August 26, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mark

    I'd rather see a large Surgeon General type warning on the side of all the AA planes and website saying that AA planes may not be maintained in accordance with FAA regulations. They would have to keep these on until AA complies PLUS an additional duration equal to the period they didn't comply.

    Sometimes the PR disincentive is worth more than any financial penalty. It would also help consumers make an informed free market decision.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Henry Miller

    Here's the deal with a lot, if not most, airworthiness directives: they're usually issued in response to a design flaw in particular types of aircraft. But instead of making the manufacturers pay for fixing the problem, they make the people who bought the planes pay for fixing the problem. That's like making people who bought Toyotas pay for fixing the faulty brakes.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. johncc

    JimT (or anyone else) do you know what AA was fined for taking engines off with a fork lift instead of as directed by the manufacturer...resulting in a DC10 (I think) rolling and falling into a trailer park in CHI?

    August 26, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      John – are you referring to Flight 191, back in May 1979. I do not recall hearing about forklifts in that story. I recall the faulty pylons. Do you have a reference for the forklift allegations? I'm not saying they didn't do that, I'm just saying I never heard of that.

      August 26, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kenny

    I agree with a company, any company, being fined for failure to follow a legal directive, however, the fines should be structured differently. Rather than fine a company 24 million dollars, assign them a fine of 10 million dollars and change the laws to stipulate that any company that does not follow an industry ordered directive resulting from an inspection and or investigation shall be assigned a preset fine. The new law should further state that all rates and other charges that lead directly or indirectly to that comapnies income and or profits from the date of the fine shall be frozen for a period of 5 years. In other words when a company is fined their ability to pass the charges on to it's customers would be stopped. Now many will claim the company would then be restricted from competing and making a profit and my argument to that is that the company is given an order and ample time to make changes or replace items related to customer safety and they chose not to do it. They would have known when they made the decision not to comply what the end results would be. Simply put, if they make the required changes there would be no further action. If they choose not to comply that new law would be the result. End of story. No court appeals. Comply or pay the price and that should apply to any company. That is better than the manner in which they handle such matters in China. They tell a company to do something and they don't comply and people get hurt, injured or killed the government then places company Executives under arrest and in prison them or even hang them for failure to comply with a lawful order.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ForFarkSakes

    Wzrd1 – the only action that will work is as you suggest, a suspension of operations order. Simply remove certain slots from their schedule over a period of time. Sure they can still jack up their prices to recover the lost revenue, but the bad publicity they will get from inconveniencing travelers will hit them harder over the long term.....if the suspension order is applied correctly and sufficiently.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rene

    The last time I remember flying in one of the old American MD-80s, I was in first class and they didn't charge me extra because my reading light wouldn't work, the seat was partially broken and wouldn't recline properly, and there was duct tape on the floor holding something together.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
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