AA Inspecting Dozens of Planes for Loose Seats - NBC4 Washington
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AA Inspecting Dozens of Planes for Loose Seats

Airline finds 6 aircraft with loose seats



    Third AA Flight Found to Have Loose Seats

    A third American Airlines flight has been found to have loose seats. (Published Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012)

    American Airlines said Tuesday that the airline has found six planes with loose seats in its continuing inspection of Boeing 757 aircraft.

    The Fort Worth-based carrier began inspecting Boeing 757 aircraft after improperly secured seats were reported on two flights. A third flight was found to have loose seats on Tuesday.

    An American Airlines representative said Tuesday that the airline had identified six planes that each had an individual row of seats that were improperly secured. The issues were corrected, and the planes were back in service, the company said.

    The airline is still inspecting 11 planes. The inspections are expected to happen Tuesday night and Wednesday.

    The New York Post reported that Flight 685 from Boston to Miami made an emergency landing Saturday in New York City after three seats on the Boeing 757 came loose shortly after takeoff. On Monday, Flight 433 had to return to New York's Kennedy Airport after reporting a similar problem.

    NBC News has learned that a Sept. 26 flight from Vail, Colo., to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport also had an issue with loose seats and that it was the same 757 aircraft that was diverted to New York on the way to Miami Saturday.

    American Airlines spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said Tuesday that there could be a problem with the way certain seats fit into tracking on the floor of the aircraft and issued the following statement:

    "Overnight, a group of engineers, tech crew chiefs and inspectors from American's Tulsa Maintenance Base evaluated airplanes at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport while other airplanes 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. 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 workgroup.

    The FAA is aware of our internal review and its findings, as well as the steps we are taking to proactively address the issue. We continue to work closely with the FAA.

    American regrets the inconvenience that this maintenance issue may have caused customers on affected flights. Safety is -- and always will be -- American's top concern."

    Some union leaders blame outsourcing for the problem with the seats.

    "You lose control of your product," said Larry Pike, president of Transport Workers Union Local 567. "When you outsource it, you lose control of your product. You have no quality control. If it was done in-house, it would have been checked three times."

    Additionally, on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports the airline said the loose seats are not an act of sabotage by angry workers.

    The snafus are just the latest headache for the bankrupt airline, which is embroiled in a bitter fight with its pilots' union and whose operations are in disarray amid a rash of flight cancellations.

    NBC 5's Scott Gordon and Ray Villeda contributed to this report.