By Mark Memmott
Media reports are building about the likelihood of a record safety fine for American Airlines over maintenance issues regarding wiring in its MD-80 aircraft.
The Associated Press writes today that:
The Federal Aviation Administration is close to wrapping up a two-year investigation of safety violations at American Airlines that could result in one of the largest fines in the agency's history, according to government and industry officials familiar with the investigation.
Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal said that "the proposed American penalty, government and industry officials said, is likely to top $10 million, and could be as much as $20 million, unless the agency changes course."
As the AP reminds us, the largest fine ever imposed by the FAA is the $10.2 million it levied on Southwest Airlines in March 2008 for flights made with aircraft that had missed required examinations for structural cracks. After a settlement, Southwest paid $7.5 million.
American spokesman Tim Wagner, according to the AP, said the airline isn't aware of any pending fine. As AP adds, "the airline has long said the safety of its aircraft was never jeopardized."
In spring 2008, American was ordered to ground its MD-80 fleet after the FAA determined that ties securing wiring bundles in aircraft wheel wells were not properly spaced. American had to cancel thousands of flights as it brought aircraft in for inspections and repairs.