American Airlines mechanic charged with sabotaging flight

A mechanic for American Airlines has been charged with attempting to sabotage a flight bound for the Bahamas from Miami in an apparent attempt to cause a delay that would allow him to work overtime.

The Associated Press reported that Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani was charged with willfully damaging or disabling an aircraft and is expected to be arraigned formally in a Miami court on Friday.

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Alani told investigators that he glued a piece of foam to part of the plane's navigation system during an interview Thursday, an act of intentional damage that was picked up by the plane's speed and directional tracking system.

He was later identified by security footage that showed him performing maintenance on the navigation system for several minutes, according to the news service.

“Alani stated that his intention was not to cause harm to the aircraft or its passengers,” the affidavit stated. Stalled negotiations over employee contracts between American Airlines and two unions representing workers led to Alani being hurt financially, the affidavit continued, which resulted in his attempt “to cause a delay or have the flight cancelled in anticipation of obtaining overtime work.” 

A spokesperson for American Airlines told The Hill that the company is "taking this matter very seriously."

"At American we have an unwavering commitment to the safety and security of our customers and team members and we are taking this matter very seriously. At the time of the incident, the aircraft was taken out of service, maintenance was performed and after an inspection to ensure it was safe the aircraft was returned to service. American immediately notified federal law enforcement who took over the investigation with our full cooperation," a spokesperson said.

The company's senior vice president for operations, David Seymour, also addressed the issue in an open letter to employees.

"Recent news reports of an extremely serious incident that occurred over the summer are disturbing and disappointing to all of us. The allegations involve one individual who compromised the safety of one of our aircraft. Fortunately, with appropriate safety protocols and processes, this individual’s actions were discovered and mitigated before our aircraft flew. We have been cooperating with authorities in this matter and will continue to do so," Seymour wrote.

"Since the time of this incident, we are in a different place. We are seeing some operational improvements with fewer aircraft out of service at the start of the day," he added.

The plane, originally set to depart from Miami on July 17, was carrying at least 150 passengers and crew, according to the AP.