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Airline Fined $1.3M For Overworked Pilots

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Federal regulators fined a Florida-based regional airline $1.3 million for overworking its pilots and dispatchers.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday that Gulfstream International Airlines of Fort Lauderdale violated regulations on how many hours pilots and dispatchers can work and improperly maintained equipment.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said an investigation last summer found instances in 2007 and 2008 in which flight crews were not provided a minimum of eight hours rest in a 24-hour period and in which they flew more than 34 hours in a seven-day period.

Brown said FAA also found 148 instances in which flight dispatchers worked more than 10-straight hours, the maximum permitted under federal regulations.

The fine came on the heels of hearings last week by the National Transportation Safety Board into the crash of a regional airliner near Buffalo, N.Y., in February.

The captain of that plane, Marvin Renslow, received his pilot training from Gulfstream Training Academy of Fort Lauderdale, which is run by Gulfstream International Airlines.

The Buffalo flight was operated by another regional airline, Colgan Air Inc. of Manassas, Va., for Continental Airlines. Gulfstream airlines' Web site says it also operates flights for Continental.

Documents released by NTSB at the hearings and witnesses' testimony indicated that Renslow, 47, and co-pilot Rebecca Shaw, 24, made a series of critical errors just before Continental Connection Flight 3407 experienced an aerodynamic stall and plunged into a house. All 49 people aboard the flight and one on the ground were killed.

Information disclosed during the hearings also suggests that the pilots may have been fatigued by commuting long distances in order to report for work at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, where Flight 3407 originated. Renslow lived near Tampa, Fla., and Shaw lived with her parents near Seattle.

Brown described the fine against Gulfstream as "relatively large" for a regional airline.

The airline's Web site says it operates flights out of nine Florida cities, 13 destinations in the Bahamas, and six cities in Ohio, western Pennsylvania and western New York state.