FAA hits United with $1.1 million proposed fine stemming from allegations that the airline shirked a required fire safety check for years
The FAA proposed a $1.1 million fine against United Airlines on Monday.
The regulator alleged that United missed a required safety check for nearly three years.
The airline said in a statement that the safety of its flights was "never in question."
The Federal Aviation Administration hit United Airlines with a proposed fine of more than $1.1 million on allegations that the company failed to conduct certain mandatory safety checks on its Boeing 777 aircraft for nearly three years.
In a Monday announcement, the FAA proposed a $1,149,306 civil penalty against the airline for allegedly shirking required inspections of its Boeing 777s' fire-detection system from June 2018 to April 2021, rendering the aircrafts to be in "not airworthy condition" for more than 100,000 flights.
The FAA said United removed its fire system warning check from the Boeing 777 preflight check-list in 2018, an inspection task deemed mandatory in the aircraft's maintenance specifications manual.
The removal of the fire system check from United's pre-flight routine resulted in the airline failing to perform mandatory safety inspections, the air-safety regulator said.
In a statement to Insider, a United spokesperson said safety is the highest priority to the airline.
United acknowledged changing its pre-flight checklist in 2018, saying it did so to account for "redundant, built-in checks" that are automatically performed by the aircraft.
"The safety of our flights was never in question," the spokesperson said.
A United representative said the FAA reviewed and approved its updated checklist at the time of the change.
On April 19, 2021, an FAA aviation safety inspector discovered that United's fire-warning system check wasn't being performed, the regulator said in a Monday letter to United's chief executive, which was obtained by media outlets.
United said it "immediately updated its procedures" after being notified of the problem. But the FAA alleged that the airline knowingly operated six of its planes without performing the mandatory check over a three-and-a-half hour period even after the issue was exposed, according to reports.
The hefty fine is a relatively rare move by the FAA, which has more recently opted to approach possible safety issues with a joint response that often includes collaboration with the airline, according to The Washington Post.
United has 30 days to respond to the FAA's announcement, and the airline said Monday that it plans to review the proposed penalty and respond accordingly.
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