BANGOR, Maine — The City Council approved Monday a settlement to pay $35,000 to the Federal Aviation Administration after a commercial airliner slid off an icy taxiway at Bangor International Airport in January 2014.
The Delta flight from LaGuardia International Airport slid off the airport taxiway, leaving its nose wheel in the grass, on Jan. 11, 2014, according to a news report.
No one was injured in the incident and passengers remained on the aircraft as it was towed to the gate. The aircraft was not damaged, according to city officials.
Airport Director Tony Caruso, who joined the airport in 1996, leaving briefly between 2001 to 2002, said he does not recall any similar incidents at the airport, known as excursions, when aircraft leave runways or taxiways.
After the incident, the FAA launched an investigation and in October 2014 issued a “Notice of Proposed Civil Penalties” that called for the city to pay $95,000 and noted the airport needed to improve “some training, communications and procedures,” according to city records.
After a hearing in January, the FAA found the airport had corrected all deficiencies and reduced the penalty to $35,000. The FAA did a follow-up inspection during a snowstorm on Feb. 26 and found that the airport and its staff were in full compliance with rules and procedures, according to city officials.
City staff reviewed the events and penalty during an executive session Feb. 23 and recommended approval, according to city records. The council approved the payment Monday without discussion.
Caruso said the airport enhanced its reporting on conditions of the airfield and ramps after the incident. It also strengthened communication between airport staff and the “snow boss,” who coordinates snow removal, and invested in equipment to monitor the temperature of the surface of the runway and taxiways, Caruso said.
Calling it “an unfortunate incident,” Caruso said there was a “severe freezing event” that day, saying, “it was freezing rain and everything was freezing on the ramp.”
He also said he was thankful there were no injuries and no damage, saying “safety is our No. 1 priority.”
“The snow removal crew that we have is top notch,” he said. “They continue to do some good things here on the airfield and, at the end of the day, we continue to provide a very safe and secure airport.”
City Manager Cathy Conlow said money for the FAA penalty will come from the airport’s enterprise fund, not the city’s general fund.
As part of the settlement with the FAA, Bangor waives its right to appeal the matter to the Department of Transportation.
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