American faces FAA fine over repairs, plans appeal

Thursday, June 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Wednesday that it intends to fine American Airlines $698,000 for flying two jetliners on 113 flights after mechanics installed improper circuit breakers.

The fines resulted from repairs made on two Fokker F-100s by mechanics at New York's LaGuardia Airport in March and April 1999.

FAA officials said the mechanics improperly replaced failed 25-ampere circuit breakers with 20-ampere breakers. Each flight was considered a separate violation of FAA regulations.

American spokesman John Hotard said the airline would appeal.

"We do not believe the violation justifies the amount of this fine," Mr. Hotard said. "This was not related to safety of flight."

The FAA said American has 30 days to respond to the proposed fine. In most cases, such fines are drastically reduced.

Mr. Hotard said the mechanics installed the 20-amp circuit breakers because a Fokker service manual called for that size. However, Fokker had not updated the manual after regulatory agencies in Holland and the United States ordered that heavier, 25-amp breakers be installed instead. The heavier breakers were required after electrical problems were reported on several jets.

Mr. Hotard said the airline voluntarily replaced the breakers on its fleet of 75 F-100s in January 1999, but it didn't notice that the service manual was not updated.