Now We Have To Worry About Airline Mechanics Intentionally Sabotaging Planes

Photo: Bruce Bennett (Getty)

Given that there are approximately one million things to worry about when flying through the sky in a giant piece of metal, I thought I’d exceeded all possible opportunities to feel anxious before boarding. But because the world is a terrible place, there is, of course, always something else! This time, it’s the wonderfully delightful fact that an American Airlines employee purposely sabotaged a plane so that he might be able to get a little extra overtime!

There are so many terrible things about this whole situation that I don’t even know where to start.

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On July 17, an American Airlines flight from Miami to Nassau had to abort takeoff because the flight computer was registering an error message, the BBC reports. After doing some preliminary inspections, authorities found a piece of styrofoam glued to part of the navigation system.

Here’s more on that navigation system:

[The suspect] glued the foam inside the tube leading from the outside of the plane to its air data module, a system that reports aircraft speed, pitch and other critical flight data, the Miami Herald reports.

That is terrible. No, it’s not just terrible. It is terrifying! It is very bad! What would have happened if this piece of styrofoam didn’t register anything being wrong until the plane was already in the air!

A mechanic named Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani was pegged as the suspect, and he opened up about the whole deal pretty quickly. He admitted that he’d hoped tampering with the plane would result in a delay or cancellation that would give him some overtime work, a criminal complaint filed in Miami states.

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He said he didn’t intend to harm anyone but was instead upset at about a stalled union contract dispute that was affecting his finances. Having an opportunity to score overtime would have been beneficial for Alani. From the BBC:

The mechanics’ union has been trying to secure a new contract with the airline as the company outsources more maintenance jobs in a bid to curb costs.

A federal court last month issued a permanent injunction against the union to stop it from interfering in the airline’s operations.

American accuses the mechanics of undertaking illegal work slowdowns over the summer period which led to flights being cancelled.

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It’s not an ideal situation all around. In fact, it sounds a little like a dystopia to me: employee sabotages plane and also hundreds of lives to have a chance to scam employer into letting him have the opportunity to make more money.

It’s a damn good thing the styrofoam was detected before takeoff, but man, I really do not want to have to worry about this becoming a frequent thing.

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About the author

Elizabeth Blackstock

Staff writer. Motorsport fanatic. Proud owner of a 2013 Mazda 2.