FAA Seeks Fines Against Alaska Airlines and Affiliate Horizon Air
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is seeking a $655,125 civil penalty against Alaska Airlines and its Horizon Air affiliate for alleged safety violation, including the failure to inspect its planes for cracks.
The FAA said that Horizon operated a Bombardier Dash-8-400 aircraft on 45 flights all the while failing to follow a safety order to check for cracked or corroded fittings on the engine housing. It can almost go without saying that the failure to find a small defect on an aircraft can have deadly consequences for passengers as the history of aviation has shown.
The inspection requirement came from a 2011 order, mandating checks of the fittings for every 300 hours of flight time and for repairs to be conducted as needed. According to the FAA, Horizon used one particular plan on at least 45 passenger flights in March 2011 after it had passed 300 hours. The FAA is seeking a civil penalty of $445,125 against Horizon.
The FAA is also seeking a civil penalty of $210,000 against Alaska Airlines, alleging that the airline failed to properly tag turned-off equipment prior to making repairs to Boeing 737 jets. The FAA states that violations of workplace safety rules happened ten times during 2010 and 2011.
Both airlines are owned by Seattle-based Alaska Air Group Inc.
A spokeswoman for the company, Bobbie Egan, claims that Horizon did perform the required inspections of the fittings over the engine covering but that the maintenance was not documented due in part to misunderstanding. She adds that the plane was pulled from service the next day when the documentation error was spotted.
Readers may recall the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261, a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft, that experienced a fatal crash on January 31, 2000. The plane plummeted into the Pacific Ocean after a nut on the jackscrew for the horizontal stabilizer sheered away in flight, causing the needless deaths of 88 people. What could have saved these people? Grease. That's right. At the time, Alaska Airlines was significantly extending or omitting required maintenance to keep its fleet of planes in the air longer instead of being out of service for maintenance. Lack of grease significantly contributed to the failure of this part.
NCCC only hopes that this incident is merely an oversight in documentation and not a repeat of the company's troubled past.