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Small airline blames fine on confusing records

A regional airline accused by regulators of overworking its pilots and dispatchers said on Monday that confusing records, not broken rules, led to the $1.3 million fine by the Federal Aviation Administration.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A regional airline accused by regulators of overworking its pilots and dispatchers said on Monday that confusing records, not broken rules, led to the $1.3 million fine by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Gulfstream International Airlines Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. said it submitted a detailed response to the FAA showing it followed regulations in "substantially all" of the examples cited in the civil penalty. It said none of the FAA findings — even those with which Gulfstream concurred — involved flight safety issues.

Gulfstream said information presented to the FAA in a 2008 inspection may have been confusing. It said it has changed its record-keeping practices to reduce the risk of future misunderstandings.

"The FAA identified several instances where mistakes had been made, principally in record-keeping, and we have strengthened our efforts to ensure that our records are not only accurate, but clear," said Gulfstream President and CEO Dave Hackett in a prepared statement.

In levying the fine, the FAA said Gulfstream International Airlines violated regulations on how many hours pilots and dispatchers can work, and improperly maintained equipment. The agency said it found that flight crews were not provided a minimum of eight hours rest in a 24-hour period and in which they flew more than 34 hours in a seven-day period.

The FAA also said it found 148 instances in which flight dispatchers worked more than the federal maximum of 10 hours straight.

Parent company Gulfstream International Group Inc. owns both the regional airline and a training center for commercial pilots. The FAA proposed the fine shortly after a hearing last month by the National Transportation Safety Board into the crash of a regional airliner near Buffalo, N.Y. that killed 50 people. That plane's captain, Marvin Renslow, received his pilot training from Gulfstream Training Academy. The plane was operated by Colgan Air Inc. for Continental Airlines.