Airline Mechanic Charged with Sabotaging Plane Before Miami Takeoff

first_imgAn American Airlines mechanic was arrested on Thursday and charged with sabotage, after he allegedly disabled a navigation system on a flight that had 150 people aboard and was about to take off from Miami International Airport earlier this summer.According to a criminal complaint affidavit filed in Miami federal court this week, Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, who was a veteran employee of the airline, was upset about stalled union contract negotiations.The affidavit also states that none of the passengers or crew on the Nassau-bound flight were injured, because Alani’s tampering with the air data module triggered an error alert as the pilots were powering up the plane’s engines on July 17.As a result, flight 2834 was aborted and taken out of service for maintenance and inspection at American’s hangar at Miami International. That is when another mechanic discovered that a loosely connected tube in front of the nose gear and underneath the cockpit had been blocked with some type of hard foam material.The complaint states that Alani glued the foam inside the tube leading from outside the plane to its air data module, which is a system that reports aircraft speed and pitch, as well as other important flight data. If the plane had taken off, the pilots would have had to operate it manually due to lack of computer data.When he was arrested on Thursday, Alani told federal air marshals who are assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force that “his intention was not to cause harm to the aircraft or its passengers.” Instead, he claimed that his motive was that he was “upset” about stalled contract negotiations between the mechanics’ union and American Airlines, and “the dispute had affected him financially.”The affidavit adds that he also told the air marshals he tampered with the air data module “in order to cause a delay or have the flight canceled in anticipation of obtaining overtime work.”Federal air marshals identified Alani in video footage that showed him approaching the plane, which had just arrived from Orlando. The footage also shows him accessing the aircraft’s compartment which houses the navigational system, and spending about seven minute tampering with it.Alani is now charged with “willfully damaging, destroying or disabling an aircraft.” His first appearance in Miami federal court is scheduled for Friday.last_img read more