UPDATE 11:30am EDT: From American Airlines – “We have identified the issue and our maintenance teams are securing an FAA-approved locking mechanism to make sure no seat can be dislodged. Repairs are complete on 40 of the 48 aircraft. All of our 757s will be back in service by Saturday.” Some media reports say the issue was actually a matter of spilled soda and coffee that caused the worn seat-securing mechanisms to fail (which may raise other questions – about the condition of the airline’s fleet and general aircraft cleanliness).
Listen as air travel analyst Rick Seaney dissects this mess.
EARLIER: On Wednesday, American Airlines said it had fixed the aircraft problems with loose or sliding seats – problems so bad, some passengers wound up flipped on their backs with their legs up in the air. Now the airline says more needs to be done – and travelers can expect new flight delays and cancellations.
Some Delayed/Canceled Flights through Oct. 6
American issued an advance apology to these customers, adding that, “Some select flights may be delayed or canceled in order to complete this work. We expect this work will be completed by Saturday, Oct. 6.” According to one media report, 44 of today’s flights (Oct. 5) have been canceled.
Ongoing Aircraft Repair Problems
The planes that were initially inspected and repaired went back into service, but last night the troubled airline said more work was needed on 48 of these Boeing 757 aircraft. “After further analysis by our engineering team,” said Andrea Huguely in a press release from American, “the company is taking additional preventative steps to enhance the locking mechanism features used to secure the seats to the aircraft floor.” So once again, the planes are being taken out of service and once again, passengers will be inconvenienced.
Pilots Critical of Outsourcing
American’s pilots have long been critical of the airline for outsourcing more of its maintenance work although the airline continues to say it has confidence in its “highly skilled maintenance and engineering teams as well our contract maintenance providers.” The pilot have their own issues with management and their unhappiness was seen as a major factor in American’s recent deluge of delayed and canceled flights. Those numbers have since eased a bit as both sides have agreed to resume talks.
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