Today the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a proposed civil penalty of $210,000 against Alaska Airlines for allegedly failing to properly document and tag deactivated systems and equipment before making repairs.
At the same time, the FAA announced a proposed $445,125 civil penalty against Alaska’s regional partner, Horizon Air, for allegedly operating a Bombardier Dash-8-400 aircraft on 45 flights when it was not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations.
Alaska and Horizon have 30 days to respond to the FAA’s enforcement letter and today Alaska Airlines spokesperson Bobbie Egan said the airlines are working with the FAA to respond to the proposed penalties. She also shared these details about the cited incidents.
According to the FAA, Alaska Airlines did not properly document when the approved alternate procedure was used for making the aircraft safe, for instance while replacing a landing light.
These procedures are used during ground maintenance and were performed 10 times on six airplanes. In these instances, Alaska performed the required maintenance work according to the aircraft manufacturer’s specifications; however, we did not properly document the alternate procedure. The maintenance was performed during ground operational checks and at no time were passengers or employees in danger.
Since receiving the letter of investigation, Alaska has implemented a number of changes to ensure compliance, including revising the maintenance manual, implementing a new training program for aircraft technicians and performing routine compliance audits.
According to the FAA, Horizon did not properly document compliance with an Airworthiness Directive in March 2011 while inspecting an aircraft fitting on one of the engine coverings, which is called a nacelle. Horizon performed the required inspection, however, we did not properly document our maintenance due to a misunderstanding over wording on the work order. (The fitting was located on a spar that attaches to the nacelle.)
The aircraft was immediately removed from service the day after the inspection when we realized we had incorrectly documented the work. The aircraft was re-inspected and found to be in proper order. Horizon has improved its work order for this engine fitting inspection to prevent a misunderstanding in the future.
FAA regulations require inspection of the engine nacelle fittings every 300 flight hours. Horizon is replacing the fittings with an improved part that does not require recurring inspections.
I’m no mechanic, but I do fly a lot, so whether the fines are warranted or not, I ‘m glad to know attention is being paid to everyone’s safety.