Yesterday, the FAA proposed a staggering $9.2 million in total fines against United and US Airways for skirting its (not to mention their own) safety procedures – doling out pecuniary penalties of $3.8 million to United (for flying a Boeing 737 hundreds of times with towels covering engine oil sumps, instead of protective caps) and $5.4 million to US Airways (which operated over a thousand flights during the past year on aircraft that violated official maintenance procedures).
The fines, one of the largest lump sums ever dealt out by the FAA, come as a result of a comprehensive investigative review of the maintenance systems of all domestic airlines, after Southwest was ordered to pay $10 million in early 2008 for using unauthorized parts and knowingly flying planes that had missed proper inspections (Southwest settled with $7.5 million last March). American Airlines was also ordered to pay $7 million last year for flying jets without making necessary repairs.
Both US Airways and United are contending they are taking steps to ensure safety standards are now met (like intensifying worker training) and cooperating with the FAA, which issues a few hundred corrective directives a year regarding unsafe operations.
What do you think? Do all of these large lawsuits make you uneasy? Or do you feel better knowing the FAA is serious about enforcing safety regulations?