msnbc.com news services
updated 2/1/2010 2:24:14 PM ET 2010-02-01T19:24:14

American Eagle Airlines was fined $2.5 million by the Federal Aviation Administration Monday for failing to ensure the weight of luggage was properly calculated, FAA said.

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The agency proposed the civil penalty because of flights that operated with erroneous data between January and October of 2008.

FAA claims that American Eagle conducted at least 154 flights where the baggage weight logged on cargo load sheets was different than data entered into the airline's Electronic Weight and Balance System.

Erroneous data, in turn, can lead to the incorrect computation of the weight and balance of passenger-carrying jets, potentially affecting calculations for proper controls and reference speeds for takeoffs and landings.

“The traveling public has to be confident that airlines are following important safety rules,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “When they are not operating to the highest levels of safety, they are subject to stiff fines.”

FAA said American Eagle operated at least 39 more flights after being made aware of the problem.

“Our inspectors are hard at work every day across the country looking for any safety issues at airlines,’’ FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said. “When we find an apparent violation of our safety rules we conduct an investigation, pursue civil penalties when necessary and require the airline to correct the problems.”

American Eagle has taken corrective actions to ensure weight and balance information is confirmed pending the automation of cargo load sheets. Regardless, the violations led to a proposed fine of nearly $2.5 million.

The carrier has 30 days to respond to the FAA.

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