The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced Monday that a $2.5 Million fine was being proposed against American Eagle Airlines for operating a multitude of flights with erroneous cargo weight data.
The FAA stated that between June and October of 2008, American Eagle operated no fewer than 154 flights where the logged baggage weight entered in cargo load sheets did not match the weight entered into the airline’s Electronic Weight and Balance System. Stunningly, at least 39 more flights were operated after the airline had been made aware of the discrepancy.
The safe operation of passenger jets requires the implementation precise weight and balance calculations. It is essential, from takeoff to landing, that the weight of cargo and passengers is accurately calculated and distributed in order to ensure that controls and speeds are calibrated accordingly. A failure to maintain awareness of the accurate amount of weight a plane is carrying can lead to tragic consequences, as was spotlighted by the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) investigatory findings into the January 30, 2009 crash of a small, Chicago-based private plane in West Virginia, which killed six people. The NTSB determined that, amongst other things, the plane was improperly balanced and overloaded by over 330 pounds more than the manufacturer’s weight limit when it took off.
American Eagle has 30 days to respond to the FAA regarding the fine.