Eight American Airlines planes grounded after seats become loose
Eight American Airlines planes have been temporarily grounded so they can be evaluated after the seats became loose on two flights in the last three days.
The Daily Mail reports that safety regulators are inspecting the Boeing Co 757 planes after a row of seats became loose during a Saturday flight and the same thing occurred on Monday.
Spokeswoman for American Airlines, Mary Frances Fagan, said that an internal investigation 'indicated that there could be a possible issue with a certain model of seats and how they fit into the tracking used to secure the seats'.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is also looking into the incidents.
American Airlines said the seats were installed by its own maintenance staff and maintenance contractors but the issue does not seem to be tied to any one maintenance facility or group.
Saturday's Miami-bound flight took off from Boston and a row of seats became unhinged and slid around the cabin, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing at New York's JFK Airport.
Similarly on Monday, a flight taking off for Miami was forced to return to JFK. There was a two-hour delay before passengers continued their journey.
Last week American Airlines accused some pilots of conducting illegal work slowdown, which led to a spike in delayed and cancelled flights. The airlines threatened to take the pilots' union to court.
Passengers have been left annoyed about the delays and cancellations but mechanical issues could frighten them away completely and threaten the airline's existence, experts say.
'These things can kill an airline,' said George Hobica, founder of travel website airfarewatchdog.com.
'With a delay or cancellation, you're sitting on the ground. (With loose seats) if the plane hits turbulence, people go flying.'
Travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt said if maintenance is perceived to be lax, 'passengers will start booking away from American Airlines in droves. This is very serious stuff. You need to get corporate security involved'.
Speaking to The New York Post about the incident on Saturday, American Airlines pilot Sam Mayer said: 'A row of seats basically became unbolted from the floor. The seats were completely not attached.'
'With turbulence, you have to be cautious. That's why everyone has to stow everything under the seat to prevent loose objects from flying around the cabin - and you've got a whole row of seats unbolted.'
Mr Mayer said that in his 24 years of working for the American Airlines he had never heard of such an incident.
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