The FAA has been investigating American Airlines for a while now over allegations that it wasn’t repairing its planes properly, and yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that the agency may widen its investigation, and even bring charges against individual employees who signed off on substandard repairs.
FAA inspectors are pursuing allegations by pilots that one of those MD-80s was believed to be in such poor condition that it was ferried without passengers from Dallas to the carrier’s Tulsa, Oklahoma maintenance base at unusually low altitudes to avoid the stress of pressurizing the fuselage during the trip, the newspaper said.
Preliminary FAA findings have identified as many as 16 American Airlines twin-engine MD-80s that were operated for months despite allegedly substandard bulkhead repairs. Agency investigators are looking into whether other MD-80s also may have been flown for repairs at low altitudes without passengers, The Wall Street Journal said.
But people familiar with the investigation said American potentially faces millions of dollars in civil penalties stemming from the widening investigation, and the FAA is also considering the unusual tactic of eventually taking punitive action against individual mechanics or supervisors who may have signed off on substandard work.
“FAA probe of American Airlines may widen: report” [Reuters]