The case of the loose airline seats

More American Airlines seats are coming loose.

“This shouldn’t happen,” a former National Transportation Safety Board administrator said yesterday. No kidding.

American officials say that the loose seats are not an act of sabotage by angry workers. The Christian Science Monitor says government officials, too, are discouraging such speculation. And why not? The faint aroma of a maintenance problem can send passengers scurrying for other airlines.

But something is clearly going on.

There was a time when the nation’s airlines performed their own heavy maintenance, as when the late Northwest Airlines agreed in 1992 to put a maintenance base in Duluth in exchange for a state bailout. But then the airlines began outsourcing maintenance, as when the late Northwest Airlines closed the facility. It laid off mechanics in 2005.

Up until last year, the Tulsa World reported then, American was one of the few airlines left still doing its own heavy maintenance. But that, too, changed.


Spokesmen for the TWU’s Local 514 in Tulsa, however, said American management knew about the 757 heavy maintenance requirements more than a year ago, failed to plan for the work and refused to consider TWU proposals for performing the maintenance in-house.

“This is another example of management failing to listen to its labor force and plan properly for the future,” said John Hewitt, Local 514′s chairman of maintenance. “Over a year ago, management decided to defer important maintenance items on the 757 fleet until a later date, and then we began to hear that some of the 757 work would be outsourced.

“In response, the TWU officers and members formed a ’757 Save Team’ that studied the situation and approached management with recommendations for keeping the work in Tulsa. They did not listen. The contract between American Airlines and the TWU clearly states that this maintenance work is to be accomplished by the TWU. It’s time for management to start listening to its workers.”

In February, the company announced it would close its Fort Worth maintenance base, and send the work overseas.

Last week, it was announced the jobs will go to Hong Kong.

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  • BJ

    So the workers that didn’t check the seats, proud USA union workers or outsourced shipped overseas scabs?

  • John O.

    From the linked article:

    //FAA officials said they have stepped up scrutiny of American as they do with all airlines operating in bankruptcy protection.

    So, if American is moving more heavy maintenance to Hong Kong, to what extent does the FAA fly inspectors over there and back?