USAir pays $140,000 to settle case FAA alleged airline flew an unsafe 767 to London in 1994

April 25, 1996|By Suzanne Wooton | Suzanne Wooton,SUN STAFF

USAir has agreed to pay $140,000 to settle allegations by the Federal Aviation Administration that it repeatedly operated an unsafe Boeing 767 between Baltimore and London in May 1994.

The federal agency, which regulates the airline industry and oversees safety issues, contended that the aircraft had a system discrepancy "involving the left horizontal stabilizer trim system which made it unairworthy."

The FAA said the problem could have affected the pilots' ability to perform procedures to control the aircraft in case of hazardous circumstances, such as the loss of other systems critical to its operation.

The flights operated between Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Gatwick Airport between May 18 and 24, 1994. The daily service to Gatwick now is operated by USAir's partner, British Airways.

USAir agreed to pay the maximum total civil penalty, but it has denied the FAA allegations.

"This was an isolated event two years ago and we reached agreement and admitted no wrongdoing," said Richard M. Weintraub, a spokesman for the Arlington, Va.-based airline which is the largest carrier at BWI. He declined to comment further on the settlement.

According to Kaye Allison, chief of civil litigation for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, such allegations and settlements with airlines are not unusual. In most instances, however, they are resolved at an administrative level rather than referred to the U.S. Attorney's Office, she said.

"I can't tell you why USAir refused to settle at that level," she said.

The investigation by the FAA was sparked by a tip the agency received on its hot line in May 1994. Ms. Allison said the information was believed to have come from a USAir employee.

Pub Date: 4/25/96

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