Recently, The U.S. Department of Transportation fined Asiana Airlines $500,000 for failing to adhere to the Foreign Air Carrier Support Act following the crash of Asiana flight 214 in San Francisco on July 6, 2013. This was the first time that the Department has levied a fine in relation to the 1997 act, and its 1996 domestic counterpart, the Airline Disaster Family Assistance Act.

The Department of Transportation docket indicates that Asiana failed to adhere to the regulations through three distinct violations.

  1. Failure to “possess and implement a plan for publicizing a reliable, toll-free telephone number and staff to take calls to such number from families of passengers involved in aircraft accident.”
  2. Failure to “notify the families of passengers involved in an aircraft accident ‘as soon as practicable after the foreign air carrier has verified the identity of a passenger’.”
  3. Failure to “commit sufficient resources to carry out the [family assistance] plan.”

This incident vividly demonstrates the need for air carriers to not just agree that they will abide by the act, but that they actually have the resources in place to ensure they are able to carry out the family assistance support that is required.

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