An American Airlines mechanic in Miami was arrested and faces sabotage charges. He has confessed to deliberately disabling a navigation system on an aircraft in hopes of securing overtime pay.
On July 17, Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani allegedly tampered with the air data module (ADM) system, causing a warning message to appear when pilots powered up the aircraft for takeoff.
While none of the passengers or crew were injured, AA2834 from Miami to Nassau was forced to abort takeoff and taken out of service for maintenance. It was during inspection in a maintenance hangar that tampering was discovered. Per the Miami Herald.
An AA mechanic found a loosely connected tube in front of the nose gear underneath the cockpit that had been deliberately obstructed with some sort of hard foam material.
Alani will appear in court today and has been charged with “willfully damaging, destroying or disabling an aircraft”.
Alani glued the foam inside the tube leading from outside the plane to its air data module, a system that reports aircraft speed, pitch and other critical flight data. As a result, if the plane had taken off that day from MIA, the pilots would have had to operate the aircraft manually because the ADM system would not have received any computer data.
After his arrest, Alani told the FBI that his intention was not cause harm to airline passengers or crew. Instead, he was angry over stalled union contract negotiations. Specifically, he claimed the “dispute had affected him financially.” He added that he had sabtoaged the aircraft in order for the flight to be cancelled, knowing that he woudl likely opbtain overtime hours from it.
Alani was quick to confess because the evidence was damning. Security camera footage caught him in the act. The Nassau-bound aircrafft had arrived earlier from Orlando. Alanai, who walks with a distinct limp, was caught in the act on the camera. The sabotage took seven minutes.
This is a despicable act that undermines everything the American Airlines mechanics have worked for. Alanai’s reckless actions should put all AA mechanics on guard and also incentivize American Airlines to install more security cameras. The relationship between AA mechanics and management is so toxic that this level of micromanagement seems a tragic but necessary step.
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image: American Airlines