Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

FAA hits American Airlines with biggest fine ever

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Federal aviation regulators slapped American Airlines on Thursday with the largest fine in history, charging that the carrier made thousands of unsafe flights.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it has "proposed" a $24.2 million civil penalty for American Airlines' failure to properly inspect wire bundles in the wheel wells of its MD-80 aircraft. The incident snarled thousands of flights in 2008.

The airline, owned by AMR Corp., (AMR, Fortune 500) did not follow the guidelines in the so-called 2006 Airworthiness Directive, which was intended to prevent wires from shorting, which could cause a loss of power and possibly a fire, the FAA said.

The airline's stock price is down 1.7%.

The FAA inspections resulted in the grounding of about 1,000 American Airlines flights in early April, 2008, after the FAA found that the airline did not properly inspect two of its airplanes.

As part of that inspection, the FAA determined that the airline operated 286 of its MD-80s on a total of 14,278 flights "while the aircraft were not in compliance with federal regulations."

FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said the fine is considered a proposal as a legal formality, because the airline has 30 days to respond and has the option of negotiating a smaller fine.

"There was never a flight safety issue," American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith told CNNMoney.com in an email.

"These events happened more than two years ago and we believe this action is unwarranted," he said. "We will challenge any proposed civil penalty. We are confident we have a strong case and the facts will bear this out."

Lunsford said that Southwest Airlines (LUV, Fortune 500) had previously been the recipient of the biggest FAA fine -- of $10.2 million -- which it was able to negotiate down to $7.5 million. To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 15,973.84 313.66 2.00%
Nasdaq 4,337.51 70.67 1.66%
S&P 500 1,864.78 35.70 1.95%
Treasuries 1.75 0.10 6.33%
Data as of 10:50am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 11.95 0.79 7.08%
General Electric Co 28.26 0.81 2.95%
Cisco Systems Inc 25.11 0.43 1.74%
Chesapeake Energy Co... 1.59 -0.19 -10.67%
Freeport-McMoRan Inc... 5.53 0.64 13.09%
Data as of Feb 12
Sponsors

Sections

Investors need someone they can bring home to mother instead of bad boys (or girls) that may make their heart beat faster. Boring beats bold in this market. Here are 10 dependable stocks we love. Southwest (ticker symbol: LUV) is one. More

Cheap oil and slow global growth may not be the only culprits of the global market turmoil. There's growing concern that central banks are spooking the markets too. More

Eastern Illinois University laid off 198 staff members this week, and the college president is blaming the state government. More