American Airlines Worker Tampered with System
CBJ — A 30-year mechanic with American Airlines is being accused of sabotaging a flight because he was allegedly upset about stalled contract negotiations and wanted to earn some overtime fixing the plane.
According to a criminal complaint affidavit filed in federal court in Miami, Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani has now admitted that he tampered with a navigation system on a plane before a July 17 flight.
The 60-year-old had Alani has worked for American since 1988 but was suspended after his arrest. It is not yet known if he will be fired.
The incident occurred before an American jet was scheduled to fly from Miami to Nassau in the Bahamas with 150 people on board. As the pilots powered up the plane at Miami International Airport, they saw an error message for a system that tracks speed, nose direction and other critical flight information and aborted the takeoff.
When mechanics examined the plane, they found a piece of foam glued inside a navigation system part called an air data module. Video from an American Airlines surveillance camera captured a person who drove up to the plane, got out and spent seven minutes working around the compartment containing the navigation system, according to the affidavit.
The person was later identified by co-workers as Alani.
Aviation experts said it was unlikely that Alani’s actions would put passengers at risk. Modern jets have several devices called pitot tubes and computers that process information about speed, heading, nose angle, altitude and other information. Nonetheless, it’s still a very serious charge.