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$2.9 million fine proposed against American Eagle

By Chavon Sutton, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Federal Aviation Administration proposed Wednesday that American Eagle Airlines, a division of AMR (AMR, Fortune 500), be given a $2.9 million civil penalty for alleged maintenance violations.

The FAA said the company operated 1,178 flights between February and May 2008 that had not undergone proper inspection of landing gear doors.

The FAA said that American Eagle found damage on four aircraft, but went against maintenance protocol by failing to remove the doors for repair. Instead, American Eagle fixed the doors while they were still attached to the planes.

According to the FAA, inspectors found that the airline operated at least 961 flights while unaware of the problem and continued to operate the faulty planes on 217 additional flights after the damage was discovered.

Andrea Huguely, an American Eagle spokeswoman, said the company conducted inspections as called for by FAA procedures and told the agency that repairs on certain aircraft were made while landing gear doors were still attached to the aircraft. She added that the FAA and aircraft manufacturer approved the repair process.

American Eagle is "disappointed" with the FAA's action, Huguely said. "We do not believe that this case involved a safety of flight issue."

The proposed civil penalty is just the first step in the process, as companies are given 30 days to respond to the allegations.

"Sometimes they get negotiated down, but it's on a case-by-case basis," said Lynn Lunsford, a spokesperson for the FAA.

This marks the second civil penalty proposed against the company this month. On Feb. 1, the FAA proposed a nearly $2.5 million penalty against American Eagle for operating flights with improper baggage weight calculations.  To top of page

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