Recently the FAA cracked down on several airline companies for failure to comply with regulations.
For instance, in 2015, FAA fined Southwest for safety violations related to one aircraft that was flown on 120 flights before it was checked for damage from a depressurization incident. The year before, Southwest was facing fines of up to US$12 million for failing to follow procedures in repairs on Boeing 737 jetliners.
SkyWest in 2015 was fined $1.23 million for failing to do regular inspection of landing gear as required after every 6,700 flights. SkyWest also didn’t conduct inspection on cracked cargo doors of two passenger planes.
In 2015, United Airlines was facing $1.3 million in fines for 120 violations of regulations involving hazardous material cargo on passenger flights. The hazardous material included lithium metal batteries, dry ice, corrosive liquids, detonating fuses, phosphoric acid and ethanol solutions.
Finally, in 2009, the FAA alleged that US Airways and United Airlines had flown planes multiple times – in one case eight planes on a total of 1,647 flights – despite the fact that the planes were in an unsafe condition.
These cases are not outliers. Each year, the FAA releases a quarterly report on regulation violations made by airlines. These reports show that negligence in following maintenance procedures and laxity in implementing the response to a given incident required by protocol are more frequent that we think.
In the first three quarters of 2015, for example, FAA fined more than 100 airlines as well as maintenance servicing companies for regulation violations.
Most of these violations were not associated with flight incidents, but they do tell a story about safety and security culture in the aviation industry.