Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Safety Issues

American Airlines announced today that it has grounded two-thirds of its MD-80 fleet, prompting 171 of its 2,200 daily flights to be canceled. Concerns over the connection of wiring within the aircraft spurred American to action. American Airlines is hopeful that the inspections, which only take a matter of hours, will be prompt and allow them to put the MD-80’s back into service. In an official statement, American noted that a Federal Aviation Administration audit led to concerns over the wiring. However, the decision to ground the planes was American's. This matter comes on the heels of public backlash against the FAA for lax inspections of Southwest Airline’s fleet. While that incident ultimately led to FAA issuing a stiff $10.2 million fine against Southwest, a Congressional investigation of the incident and the FAA’s handling of the situation is still on the horizon.

In addition to the current American Airlines situation, the FAA has also ordered the inspection of hundreds of Boeing 737 aircraft after concerns that a faulty bolt may be causing fuel leaks. The order includes both older and newer models of the aircraft, though at this time no action has been taken to ground any of the aircraft under inspection. Airlines have ninety days following the order’s effective date of April 8 to complete the inspections. While the FAA only has direct authority over U.S. airlines, it is likely that the order will be followed in other countries whose airlines utilize the Boeing 737.

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