FAA Fines Pinnacle Airlines $1 Million, Crew Members Performed Maintenance Work


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FAA Fines Pinnacle Airlines $1 Million, Crew Members Performed Maintenance Work

By Shane Nolan

October 25, 2011 - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing $1,042,500 in civil penalties against Pinnacle Airlines, Inc., of Memphis, Tenn., for allegedly operating two aircraft on a combined 63 flights when they were not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations. 

The FAA alleges Pinnacle operated a Canadair Regional Jet on 23 flights between April 30 and May 4, 2009 on which flight crew members performed procedures that should have been performed by maintenance employees, after FAA inspectors had denied an airline request to make the work an operations task instead of a maintenance task. 

The airline?s general maintenance manual requires maintenance workers to install and remove a cable kit when operating an aircraft with an inoperative or missing wheel assembly for the passenger door. Instead, flight crew members performed the procedure on the flights in question. The proposed civil penalty for this violation is $625,000.

The FAA also alleges Pinnacle failed to complete inspections of the low-pressure turbine case on a Canadair Regional Jet.  The inspections were to identify and track growth of a crack in the case to make sure the crack did not grow to exceed the maximum allowable length.  The inspections required by the airline?s continuous airworthiness maintenance program must be done every 300 to no more than 600 operating hours.  

The FAA said Pinnacle let 640 operating hours pass between a May 22, 2010 inspection and a subsequent inspection on Aug. 31, 2010.  During that time, a 3.5-inch crack grew to four inches in length. The FAA alleges the airline operated the aircraft on 40 passenger flights between Aug. 25 and 31, when it was not in compliance.  The proposed civil penalty for this violation is $417,500. 

?Safety of operation in all modes of transportation is our highest priority,? said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.  ?This means paying attention to detail and following the necessary rules and procedures.? ?All operators must comply with maintenance regulations and requirements in a timely fashion,? said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. 

Pinnacle Airlines (formerly Express Airlines I) is a regional airline, which operates as Delta Connection for Delta Air Lines. It is based in Memphis, Tennessee, with its main flying operations based at Memphis International Airport, with hubs at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. The airline was first established in February 1985 as Express Airlines I with the intent of offering regional airline passenger feed to a code sharing, major airline?s hub.

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