An American Airlines flight slated to take 150 passengers from Miami International Airport to the Bahamas in July never took off because it was sabotaged by a mechanic, according to authorities.
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The Miami Herald reported that the pilots realized something was wrong when they received an error alert from the air data module (ADM), which helps to navigate the plane, while still on the runway. Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani was charged with "willfully damaging, destroying or disabling an aircraft" for blocking the ADM with a piece of foam.
The mechanic, Alani, told authorities he was trying to get some overtime pay by causing a delay, and was not trying to hurt the passengers or the plane.
Alani was apparently disgruntled with American Airlines as a result of a lengthy dispute between the carrier and its two mechanics unions. The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline has previously accused members of the mechanics unions of purposely doing their work slowly to obtain leverage in contract negotiations.
Passengers on the affected flight boarded a new aircraft, and the plane that had been tampered with was taken out of service, American Airlines said. The aircraft was returned to service after maintenance and an inspection.
"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," American Airlines told FOX Busniess. "American immediately notified federal law enforcement who took over the investigation with our full cooperation.”
The two mechanics unions, Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) condemned the alleged actions "in the strongest possible terms."
"Any conduct that jeopardizes that safety is not tolerated or condoned by the leadership or members of our organizations," the unions said in a statement.
John Samuelsen, TWU president, said the union is "shocked" by the allegations.
"If these allegations of sabotage are true, they are outrageous and indefensible and we fully condemn such actions," Samuelsen said. "Our mechanics are highly trained professionals who are dedicated to performing at the highest standards in the industry, and we will not tolerate anything less."