American Airlines mechanic accused of sabotaging flight

Cheryl Sanders
September 10, 2019

As the plane went down the runway and pilots increased power to the engines, there was an error related to the ADM system and the takeoff was aborted. The plane was taken out of service and passengers were able to board a new aircraft before continuing to their destination. He was charged with wilfully damaging or disabling an aircraft.

Alani began working for American as a mechanic in 1988.

Alani is scheduled to appear in a Miami court at 1.30 p.m. on Friday.

According to the criminal complaint viewed by The Miami Herald, Alani told federal investigators that "his intention was not to cause harm to the aircraft or its passengers", but that he was "upset" over the stalled contract negotiations between the mechanics' union and the airline, which "had affected him financially".


Rather, his motive stemmed from the stalled contract dispute between union workers and American Airlines, Alani confessed, according to the affidavit.

Crew members in the cockpit received an error message just as the Boeing 737-800 was approaching the runway and made a decision to abort the takeoff, authorities said.

A court affidavit said that he "claimed that he tampered with the target aircraft in order to cause a delay or have the flight cancelled in anticipation of obtaining overtime work".

Alani said that he only wanted the flight to get delayed or cancelled. Modern jets have several devices called pitot tubes and computers that process information about speed, heading, nose angle, altitude and other information. The company's mechanic has been arrested on September 5, 2019, for allegedly attempting to sabotage a flight with 150 people on board before it was scheduled to take off from the airline's Miami hub earlier this summer.


John Hansman, an aeronautics professor at MIT, said pilots would notice the absence of an airspeed reading or conflicting readings and abort the takeoff, as the American pilots did.

The 12,000-member mechanics' union to which Alani belongs has been trying to secure a new contract with American Airlines for three years, the Associated Press reported.

American Airlines' battle with the TWU-IAM Association, which represents around 30,000 ground workers at AA, continues.

A federal court last month issued a permanent injunction against the union to stop it from interfering in the airline's operations. "If these allegations of sabotage are true, they are outrageous and indefensible, and we fully condemn such actions". "At the time of the incident, the aircraft was taken out of service, maintenance was performed and after an inspection to ensure it was safe the aircraft was returned to service", the spokesman mentioned.


Cathay Pacific said there was no danger to crew or passengers but it would have breached safety rules had something gone wrong, adding it was "taking the cases very seriously and has launched an internal investigation into the matter". He said American maintains full trust and confidence in its employees.

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