American Airlines mechanic, Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, who has worked for AA since 1988, was upset about contracts negotiations for the mechanics’ union. The negotiations have dragged on since 2015, and Mr. Alani felt that the failure to reach an agreement for a wage increase had affected him financially. The whole process has been ugly, with AA suing the union for causing an operational slowdown. However, Mr. Alani is accused of finding his own remedy by trying to sabotage a plane just before it was scheduled to leave Miami for the Bahamas with 150 passengers aboard.
Mr. Alani is accused of supergluing a piece of foam to block a module that reports speed, pitch, and other critical data to pilots. Yes, those would be critical functions. Fortunately, the pilots never took off because when they revved the engines to test their power, they got an error message. The pilots sent the plane for inspection and the mechanics discovered the amateur foam rig.
Mr. Alani was arrested, but says that he did not want to harm the passengers. He explained to investigators that he just wanted to delay or cancel the flight so that he could get overtime to compensate for what he felt he was entitled to if the negotiations had been successful.
Mr. Alani, like all accused criminals, never think through their “perfect” crimes. There are cameras on the jets in the hangars. The cameras taped a white pickup pull up next to the plane slated for the Bahamas flight, a man getting out, and that man opening a compartment under the cockpit. Mr. Alani’s fellow mechanics were able to identify him as the man in the video.
AA vie president of operations referred to the conduct as “extremely serious.” The president of the union said that he was “shocked.” For the Barometer, it was sobering. We are all so dependent on the integrity of others for our safety: that those who build our cars install all the parts and do so correctly, that those who handle or produce our food do so safely, and that those who services our airplanes would not take deliberate action to sabotage a flight. We just lost that last bit of trust. Let’s hope new processes are put in place to keep a more watchful real-time eye on the folks who work on and around the planes. Trust lost means more watching, more regulations, and more cost. Oops, there goes the wage increase.