FAA Proposes $200,000 Civil Penalty Against Detroit’s Wayne County Airport Authority

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $200,000 civil penalty against Detroit’s Wayne County Airport Authority (WCAA) for allegedly failing to maintain safe airfield conditions during a November 2014 storm.

The FAA alleges that WCAA, which operates Detroit Metro-Wayne County International Airport (DTW), failed to follow its FAA-mandated Snow and Ice Control Plan (SICP) during the storm. As a result, it allegedly allowed various DTW airfield surfaces to become unsafe and failed to limit air carrier operations to portions of the airfield where they could safely occur.

Among other things, the FAA alleges that WCAA failed to treat a taxiway and a deicing pad with deicer fluid. One commercial jet slid off the untreated taxiway and onto the grass, and a cargo jet became stranded due to icy conditions after exiting a runway.

Additionally, three commercial airliners became stranded on the de-icing pad for approximately three hours each due to icy pavement conditions, the FAA alleges.

The FAA further alleges that WCAA failed to notify airlines of changing runway conditions; activate the DTW “snow desk” to coordinate snow removal operations; monitor snow removal operations and issue information about conditions affecting the runways, taxiways and ramp areas; conduct frequent runway inspections and friction tests; provide enough qualified personnel on the airfield to comply with the SICP; and issue a timely notice that a runway was closed.

In January 2014, representatives from the FAA and WCAA met to discuss concerns about winter operations at DTW. Additionally, the FAA issued a warning letter to WCAA in May 2014 for failing to comply with their SICP during a February 2014 storm.

WCAA has 30 days from receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.