Delta Air Lines faces nearly $1 million in fines from the Federal Aviation Administration after the agency said the airline flew planes with flaws in a nose cone and a cockpit light.
The proposed fine is indicative of stricter regulatory enforcement by the FAA under Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, when enforcement orders have tripled and fines quintupled since 2008.
The latest case for Delta involved a February 2010 inspection that found a chip in the Boeing 737-800 nose cone that was supposed to be fixed immediately. But the FAA proposed a $687,500 fine because the plane allegedly flew 20 additional flights before it was repaired.
The FAA also claimed Delta had a problem with an Airbus A320 that had a broken cockpit floodlight socket that was to be repaired within 10 days. The FAA proposed a $300,000 fine because it said the plane flew 884 times from May 2010 to January 2011 without a fix.
Delta has 30 days to respond to the complaint, and fines are often reduced through negotiation.
A Delta spokeswoman said the airline took immediate action after verifying FAA concerns to ensure that planes fully complied with regulations.
"The safety and security of our customers and crew is Delta's highest core value," said spokeswoman Ashley Black. "At no time was either of these aircraft operating in an unsafe manner."
Airlines have complained that FAA regulatory enforcement became more strict under LaHood. The number of enforcement orders grew from 20 in 2008 to 59 last year, according to the Transportation Department. Total fines grew during that period from nearly $1.2 million to nearly $6.1 million, according to the department.
"Safety is our highest priority," FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta said. "Operators must follow the proper procedures to maintain their aircraft."
Among recent FAA fines:
•$445,125 announced May 3 against Horizon Air of Seattle for allegedly operating a Bombardier Dash 8 400 on 45 flights in March 2011 without required inspections for cracked or corroded engine fittings.
•$395,850 announced May 17 against US Airways for allegedly violating regulations in 2010 for storing dangerous materials at the Hartford, Conn., airport.