American (AMR) Inspections: Gee, We Skipped Those Planes

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AMR (AMR), parent of American Airlines, decided to skip inspections on certain of its airplanes due mostly to cost issues. The aircraft in question were suspected of being hit by lightening. American reasons that there has not been a crash caused by electric bolts in over 30 years. Tell that to the people who are on the next plane that crashes during an electrical storm.

According to The Wall Street Journal "American made the procedural changes and revised its maintenance manual in an effort to prevent planes from being pulled out of service."

AMR does have a hard choice. It can risk going into bankruptcy because it cannot cover all of its costs, including FAA mandated inspections, or it can risk killing its passengers. Tough call.

If the government is going to expect that airlines will follow the letter of the law, it will have to find some way to offset airline inspection costs with subsidies. Having an industry which is largely in Chapter 11 does not do the airlines or the government any good. With rising fuel prices, the next few quarters may be so bad that banks start looking at balance sheets at companies like AMR.

If airlines cannot afford safety procedures, the may just have to stiff their creditors.

Douglas A. McIntyre