Alaska Airlines Facing $1.6 Million in Civil Penalties from FAA for Multiple Violations

Alaska Airlines Facing $1.6 Million in Civil Penalties from FAA for Multiple Violations
Image: Alaska Airlines
January 30, 2015

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed two civil penalties totaling $1.6 million against Alaska Airlines for allegedly operating aircraft that were not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations.

In the first case, the FAA alleges that between 2010 and 2012, Alaska Airlines installed systems to pulse external lights on 66 Boeing 737s. The agency alleges that the carrier failed to conduct required ground and flight tests to determine whether the systems caused electromagnetic radio frequency interference with aircraft radios, navigational systems, or other electronic equipment.

Alaska Airlines activated the pulsing system on 59 of the 66 aircraft. The FAA alleges that the carrier operated the 59 aircraft in which the system was activated on more than 48,000 flights when they were not airworthy because the testing to determine interference had not been done.

The FAA is proposing a $900,000 civil penalty in this case.

In the second case, the FAA alleges that Alaska Airlines maintenance personnel in July 2011 repaired a Boeing 737's cracked engine thrust lever with fasteners that obstructed the pilot's access to the left side take-off/go-around button. Workers modified the repair a week later, but it still obstructed access to the button.

The FAA alleges that Alaska Airlines operated the aircraft on 549 flights following the initial repair before replacing the entire thrust control lever in December 2011. The agency says that during these flights, the aircraft was not in an airworthy condition.

The FAA is proposing a $700,000 civil penalty in this case.

"Airlines must adhere to the highest standards of vigilance and safety in modifying and maintaining their aircraft," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "The highest levels of safety are achieved by paying careful attention to even the smallest details."

Alaska Airlines has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA's enforcement letter to respond to the agency.

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