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October 04, 2012

Soda, coffee spills may be to blame for seat locking problem at American

American Airlines cancelled almost hundred flights as the carrier adds seat locking mechanisms to 48 Boeing 757 aircraft to keep seats from coming loose mid-flight.

The Fort Worth-based carrier said mechanics will be adding a second locking device to secure seats on the aircraft. The work should be completed by Saturday, said David Campbell, vice president of safety. The original “seat lock plunger mechanism” had a small pin which in some instances was failing to keep the seat in place.

"We believe over time normal wear and tear, general debris such as soda spills, coffee, things like that got into the mechanism and it didn’t allow that pin to reset," Campbell said. Mechanics found 22 out of 5,184 locking mechanisms that were not working properly.

American is working with the Federal Aviation Administration, who has approved the second locking mechanism, Campbell said, adding that the FAA is also conducting an investigation to see if other carriers that operate Boeing 757s may have the same issue with the device.

To get a better idea of what Campbell is referring to, American has released this photo of the device.

Seat Lock Plunger MechanismThe carrier started pulling planes out of service around 1 p.m. on Thursday to begin working on the aircraft. Campbell said it takes about two to three hours for mechanics to complete the work on one aircraft.

American cancelled 50 flights on Thursday and another 44 today in order to work on the aircraft.

The problem with loose seats first came to light on Saturday when American flight 685 from Boston to Miami had to make an emergency landing at New York’s JFK airport after a row of three seats came loose mid-flight. Another aircraft had a similar problem on Monday, prompting the inspections.

-Andrea Ahles

 

 

 

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