Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Seats become loose on THIRD AMERICAN AIRLINES Flight... - and now 10 planes taken out of service... -

Seats become loose on THIRD AMERICAN AIRLINES Flight... - and now 10 planes taken out of service... - 

American Airlines says improperly installed clamps caused seats to pop loose on some of its planes, and it expanded an inspection to look at 47 jets.

In the past week rows of seats have come loose on three separate flights, two of which made emergency landings. Federal officials are looking into the matter, which safety advocates consider to be serious.

On Tuesday American said that clamps used to attach rows of three seats to tracks on the aircraft floor were "improperly installed," but it didn't say where the work was done or who did it - American Airlines crews or a contractor who worked on the planes.

"We're not sure where they were improperly installed," said spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan. "A lot of people touch those airplanes."

American had planned to inspect eight of its 102 Boeing 757 jets. But by Tuesday afternoon it had inspected 36 planes and planned to check 11 more that have the same type of seats in the main cabin, the airline said.

The first sign of trouble showed up last Wednesday, when crews noticed loose seats on a plane that had flown from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to Vail, Colo. The same plane had to make an emergency landing Monday when seats came loose shortly after takeoff on a New York-to-Miami flight, and a Boston-to-Miami flight Saturday diverted to New York after seats loosened in mid-flight, according to the airline.

Separately, an American flight on Tuesday from Chicago to London was diverted to Shannon Airport in Ireland after a report of smoke in the cabin. An airline spokesman said it turned out to be a faulty cooling fan in an entertainment system, and the plane was expected to continue on to London Tuesday night.

The reports of smoky cabins and seats coming loose during flights raised questions about safety on the nation's third biggest airline. Aviation industry experts said publicity about the problem could make passengers stay away from American and fly on other airlines instead.

Matt Ziemkiewicz, president of the safety-advocacy group National Air Disaster Alliance, said passengers could be hurt or killed in an otherwise survivable crash if seats break loose from their moorings.

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