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FAA fines AirTran for flying 737 after lightning strike

It appears the FAA is taking a hard line on aircraft operators that are not properly inspecting aircraft after lightning strikes. See the news article below:

Press Release – FAA Proposes $250,000 Civil Penalty Against AirTran Airways

For Immediate Release
June 23, 2011
Contact: Kathleen Bergen
Phone: (404) 305-5100

ATLANTA – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $250,000 civil penalty against AirTran Airways of Orlando, Fla., for allegedly operating a Boeing 737 on four passenger flights when it was not in compliance with FAA regulations.

The FAA alleges Air Tran did not properly repair or test an angle-of-attack sensor on the aircraft, which warns if there is a potential loss of lift, after it was struck by lightning during a flight on March 20, 2009. The FAA also alleges the airline misused the Minimum Equipment List (MEL) when it decided to defer the repair and continued to operate the aircraft. The MEL sets out a list of what systems must be in working order to fly the plane legally and which items can be deferred temporarily until repairs can be made. Repair or maintenance of a damaged or inoperative angle-of-attack sensor may not be deferred.

AirTran has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.