WASHINGTON (AP) -- Evergreen International Airlines, a major transporter of U.S. military cargo, should be fined $4.9 million for allowing its pilots to make more than 200 flights before completing training on how to use key equipment, the Federal Aviation Administration said Friday.
The equipment -- a flight management system -- is specialized computers that automate a wide variety of in-flight tasks, reducing the workload on the flight crew so that airliners can be flown without flight engineers or navigators.
Evergreen pilots flew 232 times between February and July 2009 on planes equipped with a new flight management system that was different enough from the prior system that it required special training for pilots, FAA said.
However, the Evergreen pilots made the trips before finishing a training course and weren't given manuals on the new system, FAA said.
Even though Evergreen now complies with its training program, this penalty is appropriate because requiring operators to complete required, approved training is the only way to make sure crews are fully qualified to operate the equipment and systems to manage flights safely, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement.
Raymond Wright, Evergreen's executive vice president, said the company plans to challenge the proposed fine.
This case should not have been brought, Wright said in a statement. It represents a good faith dispute about appropriate training when we transitioned in early 2009 from one GPS-based navigational system to another GPS navigation system.
Evergreen's headquarters is in McMinnville, Ore.