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Safety officials will continue to apply their measures against a wave of unruly passengers as long as this remains a problem, Federal Aviation Administration chief Steve Dickson said on Tuesday.

“We will keep it in place until rates drop back to where we have seen them historically,” Dickson said of the zero tolerance policy for bad behavior and in-flight violence launched in January. The agency said the policy will remain in place as long as the Biden administration requires passengers on planes to wear face masks.

The FAA has said the zero tolerance policy means pursuing the maximum civil sentence or criminal prosecution against passengers who violate federal rules, by interfering with the instructions of aircraft crews. About 3,000 reports of unruly passengers have been filed this year, and 2,300 of them include face mask violations.

“Flight crews are on board the aircraft for the safety of passengers, and it is extremely important and critical and necessary to follow flight crew instructions,” Dickson said at a virtual event hosted by the Aviation Week website.

More on this: The agency said it has initiated enforcement proceedings in 57 cases so far and identified potential violations in 465 cases. In a typical year, the agency pursues up to 150 violations.

Dickson’s comments came as the FAA announced four new fines for allegedly unruly passengers.

A passenger faces a fine of $ 15,500 for ignoring instructions from flight attendants, who “told the passenger at least 10 times to wear their face mask over their mouth and nose.” This passenger also drank alcohol which was prohibited by federal rules because it was not served by the airline.

Three other passengers also face fines of between $ 7,500 and $ 10,500 for refusing to wear face masks. One “smoked an electronic cigarette in the plane’s toilet,” in violation of federal rules, and another’s yelling and profanity caused a flight to be hijacked, the FAA said.

Including the four new penalties, the FAA has announced 26 fines so far this year as part of its zero tolerance policy, totaling approximately $ 440,000 in proposed fines. The amounts are not final as passengers receive a notice of violation and have 30 days to respond.



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