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Entries in Loose Seats (3)

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







ABC News Radio