United Fights Maintenance Fine

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As United Air Lines dove toward Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week, the FAA announced it wants to fine UAL $805,000 for alleged maintenance deficiencies. The FAA claims UAL illegally patched up holes in the spoilers on three of its Boeing 757s with tape and then flew them almost 200 times before permanent repairs were made. Although the dollar amount is minuscule compared to the overall financial picture at the airline, the specter it raises among already-nervous passengers could be a devastating blow, according to one aviation analyst. Darryl Jenkins, director of the Aviation Institute at George Washington University, thinks United can ill afford this type of PR blunder. "United has to be more careful than it has ever been in its life, especially if they go into Chapter 11," Jenkins told the Boston Globe, offering his opinion that, "Things like this are not a big deal, but they cannot afford to be acting this stupid." Tape repairs are in some cases allowed, but the FAA believes the holes in question were either too large or too close to critical areas on the spoiler. How the holes were made wasn't explained. United says it will fight the fine.