FAA Proposes US$435,000 Fine Against United Airlines For 23 Flights In Non-Airworthy Condition

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More bad news for United Airlines as the FAA has recommended to fine the airline US$435,000 due to a total of 23 flights that were operated in 2014 while not being found in airworthy condition.

No final decision has been made yet if the authorities will end up issuing that fine against United as the carrier has asked for a meeting with FAA officials to explain themselves.

It wasn’t a very good year for United as far as public relations go after the passenger removal incident that got eventually settled out of court and now another headline that questions how the carrier maintains their aircraft (even though this case is already 3 years old).

Reuters (access here) published a brief news piece about the case.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday proposed fining United Airlines (UAL.N) $435,000 for operating 23 flights in 2014 with a Boeing 787 that the government alleged was not in airworthy condition.

The FAA alleged that in June 2014, United mechanics replaced a fuel pump pressure switch on the Boeing Co (BA.N) aircraft but failed to perform a required inspection before returning the aircraft to service. A United spokesman said, “The safety of our customers and employees is our top priority. We immediately took action after identifying the issue and are working closely with the FAA in their review.”

It’s noteworthy that all these flights concern one single B-787 Dreamliner Aircraft. During that time (2014) Boeing and their Dreamliner customers fought a barrage of problems with the aircraft ranging from burning batteries, software issues and problems with the Rolls Royce engines.

A New York Times (see here) article shines a bit more detail on the case.

A statement from the federal agency said that United mechanics replaced a fuel pump pressure switch on the plane on June 9 of that year after a flight crew documented a problem two days before.

“However, the airline failed to perform a required inspection of the work before returning the aircraft to service,” the F.A.A. said in its statement on Tuesday.

United operated the aircraft on 23 domestic and international passenger flights before inspecting it on June 28 the F.A.A. said, referring to its remarks as allegations. “Two of those flights allegedly occurred after the F.A.A. had notified United that it had not performed the inspection,” the agency said.

Since then the aircraft has established a reputation of being reliable and popular with passengers and airlines alike, with the latest version B787-900 being used for super long haul flights such as the United Airlines flight San Francisco – Singapore and the recently announced Los Angeles – Singapore.

Conclusion

Let’s see what the fine (if any) will ultimately be after all reviews of the matter are completed. So far it’s just a recommendation. In any case – even though $435k is a lot of money – it’s not going to break United Airlines’ back but the PR aspect of the whole matter is once again the real disaster of the entire affair.

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