Peterson smartly draws attention to the difference between the announced FAA penalty and the fraction of that cost that large airlines usually end up paying.
When the news broke that the Federal Aviation Administration was proposing to fine Delta Air Lines $987,000 for several maintenance infractions committed in 2010, many reports depicted it as a big deal. But is it? A million bucks may sound like a lot to us, but to a giant airline with annual sales of more than $30 billion, it’s chump change. And as our in-depth investigation of airline maintenance revealed, airlines rarely end up paying anything close to what the FAA initially proposes in these investigations.