12/29/2008

Both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have overhauled maintenance procedures, but neither airline appears ready to pay the huge fines federal regulators are seeking. "The instructions are gone over with a fine-tooth comb before the work is even done," says an American spokesman regarding FAA directives for electrical wiring on MD-80s, while Southwest has instituted compliance teams and spent nearly $1 million to rewrite maintenance manuals. With all the changes they've made, the airlines believe the FAA is overreaching in levying fines that could reach $30 million. "It's not defiant to assert your legal rights and defend yourselves against a penalty that isn't fair or equitable based upon the facts," says an official at Southwest, which has been contesting a $10.2 million fine since last March.

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