SEATTLE -- The Federal Aviation Administration is proposing to fine Alaska Airlines $590,000 for operating a 737 jet on 2,107 flights when it was out of compliance with maintenance requirements.
The proposed civil penalty, which Alaska can appeal, comes after a ceiling fire that erupted in the cockpit of an Alaska Airlines 737-400 while the jet was parked at the gate at Stevens International Airport in Anchorage on Jan. 18, 2010.
Investigators determined the fire was caused by chafed wiring that had resulted from improper installation of a hose clamp.
Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said a mechanic was troubleshooting an issue inside the cockpit that morning when he saw a yellow glow along the seam of an equipment panel behind which the hose clamp was enclosed.
"When the technician saw the glow, he opened the panel and immediately extinguished a very small fire," Egan said.
Alaska had most recently performed maintenance in the burned area in August 2008.
The 737 maintenance manual includes an explicit warning about proper installation of the hose clamp, the FAA said. Although the incorrect positioning of the hose clamp and the consequent wire damage were promptly addressed when they were discovered, the airline is being held accountable for all the flights of that jet between the previous maintenance check and the fire.
Alaska subsequently found the same clamp was incorrectly positioned on nine other 737-400s in its fleet and made corrections. No other fires occurred.
The FAA sent the airline a letter proposing the fine in July and issued a notice making it public Friday.
Egan said Alaska will work with the FAA to resolve the matter.