Third American Airlines flight had seats come loose
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
10/02/12 at 4:03 PM
Executives at American Airlines said Tuesday a third incident of loose seating in a Boeing 757 is being investigated by company maintenance teams while its Transport Workers Union said the cause of the seating problem is outsourced and improper maintenance, officials said.
American spokesman Andrea Huguely said a team of engineers, tech crew chiefs and inspectors from American’s Maintenance & Engineering Center in Tulsa evaluated aircraft Monday night and Tuesday at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and other aircraft were inspected at other facilities around the country.
“Originally, American planned to evaluate the seats on eight Boeing 757 airplanes, but out of an abundance of caution, the decision was made to proactively evaluate a total of 47 Boeing 757 airplanes that have the same model main cabin seats with a common locking mechanism,” Huguely said. “Thirty-six airplanes were evaluated by maintenance personnel overnight and another 11 airplanes will be evaluated to finish the inspection.
“American’s internal investigation has focused on one of three types of main cabin seats on the 757s and how the rows of these three seats fit into the track that is used to secure the rows to the floor of the airplanes. Our maintenance and engineering teams have discovered that the root cause is a saddle clamp improperly installed on the foot of the row leg. These clamps were used on only 47 of our 102 Boeing 757 airplanes.
“The issue does not seem to be tied to any one maintenance facility or one work group.”
Huguely’s statement was immediately disputed by mechanics and officers of the Transport Workers Union.
Robert Gless, deputy director of the TWU’s air transport division, said much of the work related to seat installation on American Airlines’ aircraft has been done by an outside firm, TIMCO Aviation Services of Greensboro, N.C., rather than by maintenance personnel employed by the airline.
“Problems related to seats are less likely a labor problem, but rather a management issue related to outsourcing work to third-party facilities,” Gless said.
An American Airlines plane sits on the tarmac at Tulsa International Airport back in January. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World File