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Entries in American Airlines (29)

Wednesday
Jan022013

Woman Dies on American Airlines Flight from Brazil to Texas

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- A 25-year-old woman was pronounced dead shortly after her flight landed in Houston on Wednesday, diverted because she suffered a medical emergency.

The woman was on American Airlines flight 96 from Sao Paolo, Brazil to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport in Texas.

The airline told ABC News the flight was diverted to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston after the woman became ill. The airline would not say what happened to her.

However, the Houston Police Department said that eight hours into the flight, the woman went into medical distress. Members of the flight crew, aided by a physician who happened to be on board, began performing emergency medical procedures as the plane changed course to land in Houston. Shortly after landing, the woman was pronounced dead.

There were no apparent signs of trauma or any indication of foul play. Her identity and cause of death have not been released pending notification of family members and autopsy results.

The 220 passengers and 14 crew members on the Boeing 777 departed Houston at 9:05 a.m.

In September, a 64-year-old woman on a Korean Airlines flight from Seoul, South Korea died on a flight bound for New York's John F. Kennedy Airport.

In June, a man died on a Kenya Airways flight from Amsterdam to Tanzania. The man was reportedly sweating and having seizures before the flight but the plane took off anyway.

In that case, the cabin crew reportedly laid the body across three seats and partially covered it, but another passenger, Lena Pettersson, was forced to sit across the aisle from it for the rest of the flight.

"Of course, it was unpleasant, but I am not a person who makes a fuss," Pettersson told the Swedish tabloid Expressen.

She was given a partial refund from the airline, about half the cost of her ticket.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct172012

Airline Employee Sentenced to Life for Role in Drug-Smuggling Ring

United States Attorney's Office(NEW YORK) -- A former American Airlines baggage handler was sentenced on Tuesday to life in prison for his role in leading a vast, multi-million dollar drug-smuggling ring known as the "Bourne Organization" and using the airline as his "personal narcotics shuttle service," federal officials said.

The Department of Justice said that Victor Bourne, a Barbadian national, had been convicted of leading a group that smuggled as much as 150 kilograms of cocaine from the Caribbean through New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport over nearly 10 years.

In the far-reaching scheme, federal officials said the Bourne Organization would pay off airline crew chiefs to make sure its own crooked baggage handlers oversaw certain shipments.  On the flights, the drugs were hidden behind panels in the cargo holds, in the ceiling and wing assembly, in the aircraft's avionics and in "other vital equipment compartments," the Department of Justice said.  To get the drugs out of the airport, employees would hide them in their clothing and then deliver the narcotics to Bourne.

Bourne was arrested in 2009 and the investigation into the organization led to the conviction of 19 other airline employees who were in on the scheme, the seizure of nearly 3,000 pounds of marijuana and the forfeiture of $6.9 million.

"Using his insider status, Bourne turned American Airlines into his personal narcotics shuttle service," U.S. attorney Loretta Lynch said in a press release, "running a criminal organization that ignored passenger safety and security in pursuit of their greater goal -- enriching Victor Bourne."

Bourne was brought down at trial by six witnesses, all former American Airline employees, who had pled guilty to their own narcotics trafficking charges.

American Airlines declined to comment for this report.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct052012

American Airlines Grounds 757s for Second Time

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Two days after American Airlines said it had inspected and discovered what caused rows of seats on three different passenger jets to become loose in flight and returned those planes to service, the troubled carrier is taking planes out of service for repairs once more.

American Airlines will make repairs to 48 757s at their next stops, the airline said in a written statement.

"American has instructed mechanics to pay particular attention to the seat lock plunger mechanism that secures the seat to the aircraft floor," American Airlines spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said in the statement. "Mechanics have begun taking steps necessary to ensure that no seat can become dislodged from its track. The work is expected to be completed after the 48 affected aircraft land at their next destination."

"Some select flights may be delayed or canceled in order to complete this work," the statement added. "We expect this work will be completed by Saturday, Oct 6. We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience this may cause with their travel plans. The safety of our customers and people as well as the reliability of our fleet, is always of utmost priority to American."

The decision to perform the maintenance was a voluntary decision by the airline. The Federal Aviation Administration endorsed the move and says its investigation is ongoing.

"The FAA is aware of American's decision to conduct further inspections on certain Boeing 757s and concurs with this step," the FAA's statement said. "Our safety investigation continues and we'll take additional action as appropriate."

It's been a difficult few weeks for the bankrupt carrier, whose parent company filed for bankruptcy protection last year.

[See a timeline of American Airline's troubles]

Almost 50 of American Airlines' fleet of Boeing 757s -- nearly half the fleet -- were taken out of service earlier this week after three incidents of seats becoming loose in flight.

In one case, passengers flipped on to their backs.

The airline said Tuesday the seats' saddle clamps were improperly installed on the planes where the seat rows disengaged. Many of those planes were put back in service.

The first reported instance of seats becoming loose took place on Sept. 29 when seats came unbolted on flight 685 from Boston to Miami. The flight was diverted and made an emergency landing at JFK.

A second incident took place on Monday. Flight 443 from JFK to Miami was returned to JFK without incident when the seats were discovered, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

Then on Tuesday, it was reported that a Sept. 26 American Airlines flight from Vail, Colo., to Dallas had a similar seat issues.

The FAA said in a statement Tuesday it was looking into the first two incidents and that the airline's initial inspection of each aircraft had found other rows of seats that were not properly secured.

"Preliminary information indicates that both aircraft had recently undergone maintenance during which the seats had been removed and re-installed," according to the FAA.

The loose seats are just the latest in a series of troubles for American. The airline has suffered from heightened delays and cancellations in recent days.

"It's going to take American some time to rebuild trust in terms of the reliability of the schedule," Henry Harteveldt, airline and travel analyst at Atmosphere Research Group told ABC News.

AMR Corp., American Airlines' parent company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2011.

The FAA has stepped up scrutiny of American during its bankruptcy, as it has in the past for other carriers in similar situations.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct032012

American Airlines Suffers Another Safety Scare; Talks to Resume with Pilots

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Another day, another safety issue has American Airlines under the microscope because of a mid-flight maintenance scare when a plane's landing-gear jammed after take-off.

Flight 1862 from Dallas to St. Louis had to return for an emergency landing 10 minutes into the flight Tuesday.  The passengers were told to brace for a crash landing at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Jim Faulkner, an American Airlines spokesman, confirmed that the flight turned back to the airport without incident around 8:40 a.m. local time.  Passengers were put on another plane to St. Louis.

"When they said assume the position, it was scary," passenger Elaine Krieger said.

As passengers reflected on the incident, some were left to wonder whether the landing-gear concern was real, well aware of the airline's recent trouble with labor.

"Some people are cheering as we landed, and the rest of us are thinking, 'Is this a scenario they created, or was it real?'" passenger Jeff Estes said.  "Are they really heroes, or are they guys just creating a job action?"

After a tumultuous week of seats becoming loose, flipping over in mid-flight in one case, American Airlines has announced that it will resume stalled contract negotiations with its pilots' union as early as Wednesday.

The developments could lead to a breakthrough in a rocky standoff between the nation's third-largest carrier and its pilots.  Thomas Horton, CEO of American parent AMR Corp., said Tuesday in a statement that he was pleased that "intensive bargaining" was scheduled to begin this week.

"It has been a very challenging couple of weeks for our company.  As you know, our operations have experienced significant disruption, affecting our customers, our people and our owners," Horton said.

Nearly half of American Airlines' fleet of Boeing 757s -- 47 jets -- were taken out of service earlier this week to make sure that no more of its coach seats came loose in flight, as they now have three separate times.  As of Wednesday morning, many of the planes are now back in service as the airline said the loose seats were a result of human or mechanical error and not sabotage.

The airline said a saddle clamp was improperly installed on the planes where the seats disengaged.  The latest reported incident of loose seats occurred on a flight from Vail, Colo., to Dallas on Sept. 26, the New York Post reported Tuesday.

Flight 443 from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport to Miami had to return to JFK Monday when the loose seats were discovered, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

The earlier reported incident took place Saturday night when seats came unbolted on American Airlines Flight 685 from Boston to Miami.  The flight was diverted and made an emergency landing at JFK.

The FAA said in a statement Tuesday that it was looking into the first two incidents and that the airline's initial inspection of each aircraft had found other rows of seats that were not properly secured.

"Preliminary information indicates that both aircraft had recently undergone maintenance during which the seats had been removed and re-installed," the FAA said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct022012

American Airlines IDs Loose-Seat Problem; Most Planes Back in Service

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Nearly half of American Airlines' fleet of Boeing 757s -- 47 jets -- were taken out of service overnight and Tuesday as the troubled airline tried to make sure that no more of its coach seats came loose in flight, as they now have three separate times.

American said Tuesday that it had identified the reason that three of its flights had to be aborted mid-flight because of loose seats. In one case, passengers flipped on to their backs.

The seats come in rows of three, and the row is held to the floor with what's called a saddle clamp. It's that saddle clamp that was improperly installed on the planes where the seats disengaged.

The airline ruled out sabotage, saying it was either human or mechanical error. Many of its planes are now back in service.

 

One plane with loose seats flew for six days before seats were discovered, while another flew five days.

The last occurrence reportedly came loose on an American Airlines flight last week, a day after news first surfaced of loose seats on American Airlines flights that triggered two emergency landings in the span of three days.

The latest reported incident happened on a flight from Vail, Colo., to Dallas Sept. 26, the New York Post reported Tuesday.

The incident involved Flight 443 from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport to Miami Monday. The plane returned to JFK without incident when the seats were discovered, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

The earlier reported incident took place Saturday night when seats came unbolted on American Airlines Flight 685 from Boston to Miami. The flight was diverted and made an emergency landing at JFK.

The passengers in those seats were moved to other seats on the plane.

No one was injured and the aircraft landed safely at JFK. The passengers were delayed three hours before being put on another flight to Miami.

American says the investigation is still under way, but so far the airline cannot give a solid answer as to why the seats, which have been in use for up to 20 years, are coming loose now.

Aviation sources say the last eyes and hands on the saddle clamps in all three loose seat incidents belonged to company mechanics, which lead some to suspicions of possible sabotage, but safety experts tell ABC News that would be a first.

"To deliberately think that somebody would do something to a seat track assembly to cause it to come lose during flight is just something that's not thought of in this industry," said Kevin Hiatt, chief operating officer of the Virginia-based Flight Safety Foundation.

An airline representative said the airline does not believe the incidents are related to American's ongoing labor issues.

The mechanics union, which lost jobs to outsourcing, says it has had nothing to do with the loose seats and points to the new private maintenance.

The loose seats are just the latest serious labor troubles for American. The airline has suffered more than 2,200 delays and 75 cancellations in the last three days -- its planes have also been on time only 57 percent of the time.

"It's going to take American some time to rebuild trust in terms of the reliability of the schedule," Henry Harteveldt, airline and travel analyst at Atmosphere Research Group, told ABC News.

The FAA said in a statement Tuesday that it was looking into the first two incidents and that the airline's initial inspection of each aircraft had found other rows of seats that were not properly secured.

"Preliminary information indicates that both aircraft had recently undergone maintenance during which the seats had been removed and re-installed," according to the FAA.

The FAA has stepped up scrutiny of American during its bankruptcy, as it has in the past for other carriers in similar situations. AMR Corp., American Airlines' parent company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2011.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct022012

American Airlines Inspecting Planes as Third Loose Seat Incident Reported

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- American Airlines tells ABC News it is inspecting eight Boeing 757s in its fleet that recently had new seats installed after another report of loose seats aboard one of its flights surfaced Tuesday morning.

The latest incident involves a flight from Vail, Colo., to Dallas on Sept. 26, according to the New York Post, and marks the third such reported problem with loose seating aboard an American Airlines flight in less than a week.  The other two incidents took place last Saturday aboard a flight from Boston to Miami, and on Monday aboard a flight from New York City to Miami.

While American Airlines blamed recent flights delays on labor troubles with pilots, it insists the seat incidents have nothing to do with the airline's bankruptcy filing or labor issues.

"This is a mechanical issue. That's all it is. It's not related to anything else despite all the rumors and speculation," says American Airlines spokesman Bruce Hicks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct012012

Two Sets of American Airlines Seats Become Loose in Flight

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Another set of seats came loose on an American Airlines flight Monday, the second such incident in three days on one of the carrier's flights. There was a similar incident of seats becoming loose, resulting in an emergency landing, over the weekend.

The latest incident took place on flight 443 from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport to Miami. The plane returned to JFK without incident when the seats were discovered, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

An airline spokesperson said the airline does not believe either incident is related to American's ongoing labor issues.

The earlier incident took place Saturday night when seats came unbolted on American Airlines Flight 685 from Boston to Miami. The flight was diverted and made an emergency landing at JFK.

The passengers in those seats were moved to other seats on the plane. No one was injured and the aircraft landed safely at JFK. The passengers were delayed three hours before being put on another flight to Miami.

As a result of the two incidents, the carrier has taken a total of eight aircraft out of service until they can be inspected.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement it is looking into both incidents and said both Boeing 757 jetliners have been taken out of service. The FAA said that the airline's initial inspection of each aircraft found other rows of seats that were not properly secured.

"Preliminary information indicates that both aircraft had recently undergone maintenance during which the seats had been removed and re-installed. Including these two airplanes, the airline has taken eight aircraft with similar seat assemblies out of service until they can be inspected," the FAA statement read.

The FAA has stepped up scrutiny of American during its bankruptcy, as it has in the past for other carriers in similar situations. AMR Corp., American Airlines' parent company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Nov. 29, 2011.

American Airlines spokeswoman Andrea Huguley said in a statement the airline is conducting an internal investigation and that there could possibly be an issue with a certain model of seats and how they fit into the tracking used to secure the seats.

"Out of an abundance of caution, American has decided to proactively reinspect eight 757s today that could possibly have this same issue. The seats were installed by American maintenance and contract maintenance. The issue does not seem to be tied to any one maintenance facility or one workgroup.

"This afternoon, the company flew engineers, tech crew chiefs, and inspectors from its Tulsa maintenance base to New York to evaluate the aircraft and determine the next course of action to correct the problem.

"We are in contact with the FAA. They are aware of our internal review."

This is the latest in a string of recent problems for American Airlines. Maintenance and employee issues have led to significant delays and cancellations in recent weeks.

ABC News reported last month that the airline was forced to delay nearly 40 percent of its flights, with most forced to be late or even cancelled by an "unprecedented and very significant" increase in maintenance issues. The airline blamed the pilots, who it claimed were calling out sick 20 percent more than normal.

"The recent disruptions are primarily due to the significant increase in maintenance write-ups by our pilots, many right at the time of departure," the airline said in a statement last month.

The pilots union said there is no sanctioned work action under way and disagreed with American's accounting of sick leave and crew cancellations.

A fight last month between two flight attendants over a cellphone forced a plane to turn back to the gate at JFK and delayed passengers four hours while the airline found a new crew.

The trouble at the airline has prompted at least one airline industry expert to advise passengers to book away from the airline for the time being.

Wall Street Journal travel editor Scott McCartney warned passengers, "My advice is, until things get straightened out with the operations, if you have a choice, you ought to book another airline. It's just not worth it."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct012012

American Airlines Flight Diverted over Loose Cabin Seats

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- American Airlines is investigating how and why a row of seats aboard one of its Boeing 757s came loose mid-flight this weekend, forcing an emergency landing in New York City, ABC News has confirmed.

The incident, which is also being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), happened on Saturday aboard a flight from Boston to Miami.

In a statement, the FAA said, "Preliminary information indicates that a row of three seats in the coach cabin apparently became loose."

Three passengers were accommodated in other seats before the plane was diverted to John F. Kennedy International Airport at 12:50 p.m., the statement continued.  No one was hurt.

Once on the ground, all passengers on board were placed on another flight to Miami.  They suffered a three-hour delay.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep202012

American Airlines Delays Leave Passengers Waiting

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- American Airlines passengers have seen many delays in recent weeks, including a four-hour delay when two flight attendants reportedly argued about a cell phone.

One flight attendant went so far as to announce on the public address system that all passengers had to turn off their cell phones, "including the other flight attendant," according to a local television report in Washington.

The dispute, according to a local television report, forced the captain to turn back from a runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and find a new crew before resuming the flight.

Delays Thursday at New York airports, however, were all labor-related.

American, whose parent company has filed for bankruptcy protection, was forced to delay nearly 40 percent of its flights, with most forced to be late or even cancelled by an "unprecedented and very significant" increase in maintenance issues.

ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz experienced the problem firsthand Thursday.

"We go out to the runway to take off and the pilot comes on and says, 'Sorry, we have a mechanical problem,'" she said. "The motor that starts the engine is not working [and] we have to go back."

ABC News has learned the FAA is concerned enough to have stepped up scrutiny of American during its bankruptcy. So far, there is no indication safety has been compromised, but federal monitors are making more ramp checks and fly-alongs with pilots to make sure.

Thursday's flights were punctual only 64 percent of the time, compared to the normal 82 percent for September.

In a statement to ABC News, American apologized to customers but blamed pilots for the delays.

"The recent disruptions are primarily due to the significant increase in maintenance write-ups by our pilots, many right at the time of departure," the statement read.

These "disruptions" led to 547 delays on Thursday. On a normal day, the airline sees about 100 delays.

The airline added that pilots are calling in sick 20 percent more than normal, which "impacts the availability of reserve pilots, which can ultimately lead to cancellations."

The pilots union said there is no sanctioned work action under way and disagreed with American's accounting of sick leave and crew cancellations.

"We have verified that pilot sick rates have not deviated from normal historical rates," said the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airline's 10,000 pilots. "We have likewise verified that crew cancellations remain at normal rates."

Instead, the union blamed the unreliability on mechanical problems within the airline, saying it "isn't surprising," given the large number of furloughed mechanics and closing of "one of its largest maintenance facilities."

The Wall Street Journal's travel editor, Scott McCartney, took the rare step of warning would-be passengers to fly another carrier.

"My advice is until things get straightened out with the operations, if you have a choice you ought to book another airline," McCartney said. "It's just not worth it."

The airline pre-cancelled 300 flights this week, hoping to re-accommodate passengers in advance. It also has reduced its schedule by one to two percent through October.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep172012

Two Planes Held at JFK Airport for Threat Investigation

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Officials cleared two flights held for a time at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport after a threat involving the aircrafts was phoned in Monday.

A caller told authorities that the flights, a Fin Air flight from Helsinki and an American Airlines flight from San Francisco, had "two individuals" described as terrorists "secreted in the wheel wells." This claim led law enforcement officials to search each plane, a Port Authority official told ABC News.

Investigators viewed the threat as one with low credibility, but the planes taxied to a secure area, where the crews of each plane were interviewed.

No explosives or terrorists were found.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio