Trust Lost: Mechanic Charged with Sabotaging an American Airlines Flight

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.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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