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FAA: Airline flew plane 80 times without repair

WASHINGTON – Federal regulators on Wednesday proposed fining a feeder airline, Corporate Air, $455,000 for allowing a small airliner to carry passengers on 80 flights despite an engine that needed repair.

Separately, the Federal Aviation Administration also proposed fining an owner of a California parachute jumping operation $664,000 for flying a plane more than 2,600 times with critical equipment overdue for replacement and without making required inspections.

"The safety of the passengers and crew must be the top priority for any operator," FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement. "All operators must comply with maintenance requirements."

Billings, Mont.,-based Corporate Air flew the Beech 1900C — a 19-passenger twin-engine turboprop plane — without repairing its right engine, which was consuming excessive amounts of oil, FAA said. Mechanics repeatedly added more oil when the plane landed despite directions in the engine manufacturer's service manual to make repairs, the agency said

Executives with Corporate Air didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. The company has scheduled flights in eight states in addition to Montana: Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. It also operates six aircraft repair and maintenance facilities, according to a company website.

The FAA also said The Parachute Center of Acampo, in Northern California, operated a 20-passenger DeHavilland DHC-6 Twin Otter on more than 2,600 flights when critical parts were well past their life limits and without inspecting portions of the wings for corrosion.

A man answering the phone at the parachute center declined to comment on the fine.

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