FAA Investigates American After Rocky Landings

Spate of incidents puts airline on the hot seat
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2010 6:14 PM CST
An aerial view of the cracked fuselage of American Airlines flight AA331, which crashed landed just past the runway of Norman Manley international airport in Kingston, Jamaica, Dec. 23, 2009.   (AP Photo/STR)

(Newser) – The Federal Aviation Administration is stepping up its oversight of American Airlines, looking for a link amid a spate of recent rough landings. Three American jets have had problematic landings in recent weeks, the most dramatic being an incident in Jamaica on Dec. 23, in which a 737 skidded off the runway, cracking its fuselage and injuring dozens. The other two issues, in North Carolina and Texas, were less serious and involved M-80 jets.

American says it's cooperating, but doesn’t think there’s a link. Such FAA investigations are uncommon, but not unheard of, experts tell NPR, with the last hitting Southwest Airlines in 2008 over fuselage cracks. Inspectors will check to ensure American actually follows its maintenance and safety protocols. “They could have FAA flight examiners basically looking over the shoulders of some pilots to see whether or not they're operating in accordance with FAA regulations.”

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