By eTN Managing Editor
Is American Airlines really safe?
Is flying on American airlines aircraft really safe? if one can trust a lawsuit filed by the local American Airlines
Mechanic union, money rules the company – and safety is another issue.
The local 951 union in Texas has sued American Airlines, alleging the company has pressured mechanics to cut
corners when it came to aircraft maintenance.
The lawsuit, filed on Thursday in the US Federal Court for the Northern District of Illinois, says the Fort Worthbased
carrier has “compromised public safety” and mechanics have been threatened with termination when they
have notified the Federal Aviation Administration about possible maintenance problems.
eTN spoke to the unions lead attorney Lee Seham.
“AA-employed [mechanics] have been subject to increasing pressure to engage in unlawful and even fraudulent
maintenance practices in order to keep AA aircraft in revenue service,” the lawsuit says.
For example, supervisors have told mechanics not to perform lightening strike inspections even if they find
lighting strike damage. Mechanics are only allowed to inspect it if they saw the aircraft struck by lightning, the
Mechanics are not getting rewarded to point out maintenance issues that often involve the safe operation of an
aircraft. Unless there is a complaint mechanics are often threatened with termination instead of rewarded to
point out issues.
This problem is not only an issue on a domestic scale. Mechanics known to be precise are put on a “no international list” and won’t be sent to international
locations to maintain American Airlines planes.
The “on time factor”, the economical factor has taken over the safety factor.
The suit says that the FAA is currently investigating 21 complaints made by mechanics, who have said the company has pressured them to disregard federal
directives on aircraft maintenance.
eTN was unable to get a statement from American airlines at this time, but received comments made to other local media.
“We have the highest regard for, and a robust working relationship with, the Federal Aviation Administration. We continually and consistently work with our
regulators so that American’s maintenance programs, practices, procedures, and overall compliance and safety are second to none. Our communication with the
FAA is ongoing and frequent, and their oversight team has not alerted us to any current critical issues or concerns. As has been, and will always be, the case, we
welcome any feedback from the FAA that supports American’s unwavering attention and commitment to maintenance and technical operations excellence.”
American’s mechanics are currently represented by the Transport Workers Union. However, with the carrier’s merger with US Airways, federal regulators have
not yet determined which union will represent the mechanics at both airlines.