Aa757first, et al,
To answer a bit of your notes:
--For four days a Pro Air jet flew with a broken emergency handle.
Seem to remember this was the little plastic handle that a flight attendant uses for leverage, not the swing bar on a 737 emergency door. Believe this was struck off (as were 58 of the 59 allegations that the Feds shut us down over) as it was a CDL item, not an MEL
--In July a pilot collided with a service truck in Orlando.
Remembered this one as it was on my last day of work! Chief pilot at the controls, Fed in the jumpseat, and the collision was with an ATA can loader. Reason for the collision, no wing walkers.
On July 15 the FAA found that seat cushions in emergency exits were not approved.
--If I remember correctly, plane in question had flown in service from it's delivery from Boeing, where it was approved and certified, until that day where the folks in charge decided that the cushions were all of the sudden unapproved.
Look, in 3.5 years of flying, we operated 5 planes total. After returning N360PR, we obtained two ex Air Europa 737-300s as the lease rates were basically the same as the new 737-300 we returned. One airplane took a long time to get certified whereas the other one never was due to the seat configuration and the inability to come up with nearly a million dollars to have an STC to get it properly configured (it was something about the seat flooring from what we were told). A week after giving that plane back to the lessor, it's in service with Frontier. If you're not dealt a fair hand to play with, you can't make it in the this industry. Period.