Most of the time, the fees handed down by the Federal Aviation Administration do not seem too bad considering the rules that get broken by some airlines. Other times, however, it seems that its fees are excessive. One such example of this was seen this past Monday when Southwest Airlines was fined more than $325,000 after one of its AirTran units kept flying a Boeing 717 despite having a bad windshield de-icer repair.
The Federal Aviation Administration said that the mechanics for AirTran, which is part of Southwest Airlines, failed to properly install a windshield heating system. The AirTran flight crew knew that the windshield heating system did not work properly because they tested it. Despite this, they continued to fly the plane.
The agency went on to say that if the switch for the unit had been installed correctly, personnel would have been able to easily isolate the problem with the windshield de-icer system. There was a warning system that was coming on telling the crew that the windshield heater was not working correctly. As it turns out, the left and center windshield warning systems were reversed. This made it hard to actually find the problem. The Federal Aviation Administration said that AirTran went on to fly more than 1,140 passengers on this plane before the problem was ever fixed.
Brandy King, who is a spokeswoman for Southwest Airlines, said that the company is aware of the penalty being proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration. Southwest Airlines has been actively working with the agency to find a solution to this problem. Safety is the most important thing to Southwest Airlines and all of its brands.
The spokeswoman added that the de-icer modification was put on the planes as a safety enhancement. There was apparently an error with the installation. This error did not result in any kind of safety issue on any flight. The notification system remained very active and even alerted the crew that there was a window heater malfunction.
This is not the only huge fine that has been handed out by the Federal Aviation Administration as of late. In fact, the agency is also slapping Great Lakes Aviation with a $304,000 fine for allegedly flying 19 planes that were not completely up to regulation. The planes had de-icing fluid that was heated in excess of 180 degrees. The Federal Aviation Administration says that fluid heated this much could actually damage the aircraft or the de-icer itself.
When commenting on this, the Federal Aviation Administration said that Great lakes Aviation flew planes in conditions that are not up to standards. This is a problem since this group was flying planes in areas were ice, snow and frost are expected. This puts not only its employees at risk but also its passengers who are expecting a safe flight.