Cleveland Facing Hefty Fines from FAA for Failing to Meet Airport Safety Requirements

Cleveland Facing Hefty Fines from FAA for Failing to Meet Airport Safety Requirements
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September 23, 2015

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed civil penalties totaling $735,000 against the City of Cleveland for failing to meet FAA requirements for maintaining a safe airport during winter weather.

The FAA alleges that over a 15-month period ending in March 2015, managers at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport failed on numerous occasions to keep the airport's runways and taxiways safe and clear of snow and ice. Federal Aviation Regulations require airports with commercial service to have sufficient and qualified personnel to carry out their snow and ice control plans during severe weather.

"Snow and ice removal at our nation's airports is a critical safety issue," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "We require airports to effectively manage this important responsibility."

The FAA conducted three separate investigations into the airport's alleged failure to comply with federal regulations between December 30, 2013 and February 25, 2014.

After initiating those investigations, the FAA says that it worked with airport management to update Cleveland's snow and ice control plan. This included establishing new procedures and adjusting schedules to ensure that sufficient personnel were available to respond to inclement weather.

Then, on March 1, 2015, icy conditions prevented an air carrier from quickly exiting the runway. Controllers subsequently canceled the takeoff clearance for one flight and told the captain of another flight on final approach to go around. During its investigation into this incident, the FAA found that, even under the airport's updated snow and ice control policy, airport management allegedly had failed on 19 separate days between January 5 and March 1, 2015 to have the required number of maintenance and airport operations personnel on duty.

The city of Cleveland has 30 days from receipt of the FAA's enforcement letter to respond to the agency.