Personal Injury

Airline faces nearly $5 million in FAA fines for improperly trained pilots

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a $4,855,000 civil penalty against Evergreen International Airlines of McMinnville, Ore., a global cargo airline company, for allegedly using pilots on 232 flights who had not been trained in accordance with an FAA-approved training program.

The questionable flights were made between Feb. 19 and July 9, 2009, on aircraft equipped with a new flight management system (FMS). The differences between the new FMS and the old system were significant enough to require specific training for pilots who were flying the aircraft. The FAA alleges Evergreen did not complete its FAA-approved training for pilots before assigning them to fly trips using the new FMS.

“We put rules and regulations in place to keep air transportation safe and we expect airlines to comply,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The FAA alleges Evergreen line pilots received ground training and a check ride on the new FMS, but that the company did not provide required familiarization flights supervised by the company’s check pilots despite being ordered to do so by the FAA. The familiarization flights are part of the FAA-approved training program for Evergreen aircraft equipped with the FMS. Evergreen also failed to distribute copies of the required system manual to crews who would be using the FMS.

Subsequent to the improperly conducted flights, Evergreen has ensured that its pilots are trained in accordance with an FAA-approved training program.

“Even though Evergreen now complies with its training program, this penalty is appropriate because requiring operators to complete required, approved training is the only way to make sure crews are fully qualified to operate the equipment and systems to manage flights safely,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.

Evergreen has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s civil penalty letter to respond to the agency.