The Wall Street Journal reports about an escalating dispute between American Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over allegedly improper repairs.
According to preliminary findings at least 16 McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft were operated for months, and sometimes years, with potentially substandard repairs to cracks around rear pressure bulkheads. Some FAA inspectors think the circumstances under which the airline suddenly chose to ferry one MD-80 for storage show the move was part of an effort to hide the extent of suspected defects. American Airlines said that facts were being misrepresented by the FAA and that the FAA had complete access to retired aircraft.
The aircraft involved in the storage issue was reported being N279AA, an MD-82 (msn 49295/1214) that was delivered to American Airlines in 1985.
An ASN query of the FAA’s Service Difficulty Reporting (SDR) database shows one report related to pressure bulkhead (JASC code 5312) repair of N279AA in 1999: “TUL – FOUND CORROSION AROUND SEVERAL FASTENERS ON FORWARD SIDE OF STATION 1338 PRESSURE BULKHEAD RIGHT SIDE ABOVE VAULT DOOR JAMB, JUST BELOW RIGHT A/C DUCT. REMOVED DAMAGE BY BLENDING. INSTALLED DOUBLER PER ESO 80559, DATED 12-10-99” (Wall Street Journal)