The US Transportation Security Administration may levy civil penalties against American Eagle Airlines after one of its inspectors was able to gain access to the interior of seven out of nine Embraer ERJ-145 aircraft at Chicago O'Hare International airport on 19 August.
Inspection results are being reviewed and depending on the outcome, TSA says it could penalize the regional. A TSA spokeswoman declined to explain the administration's reasoning behind a potential penalty.
An American Eagle spokeswoman says, "We are unaware of any violations," adding she is confident the airline followed procedures for securing aircraft overnight.
However, the carrier says in a statement it is concerned about the "unorthodox inspection techniques" used at roughly 0530 on 19 August.
An airline employee noticed a man hoisting himself up to the jet bridge close to an ERJ-145 using the pitot tube on the side of the aircraft near the closed and locked cockpit door for leverage, an American Eagle spokeswoman says.
The TSA agent admitted to using the same procedure on a total of nine aircraft, all of which the airline then pulled out of service. The agent gained interior access to seven of the regional jets. Inspections, which took up to two hours to complete, revealed no damage and all aircraft were back into service by 1045 on 19 August, the airline says
"If not observed by vigilant Eagle employees in Chicago, the actions of this inspector would have been unknown and could have jeopardized the safety of our customers and crew because of potential damage to the sensitive equipment mounted on the aircraft fuselage," the carrier says in a statement.
TSA says it was not its intent to cause delay or potential damage to the aircraft as a result of its inspections.
"TSA took immediate steps to re-enforce education about sensitive equipment located on the exterior of a plane," the administration adds.
Source: Air Transport Intelligence news