September 12, 2019 / 7:11 PM / 8 days ago

American Airlines mechanic stripped of FAA certificate ordered held in sabotage case

WASHINGTON, Sept 12 (Reuters) - An American Airlines mechanic charged with purposely damaging an aircraft in July during a dispute between the airline and its mechanics union involving stalled contract negotiations will remain behind bars until at least Sept. 20, according to a court filing on Thursday.

The Federal Aviation Administration also disclosed Thursday that it had issued an emergency order earlier this week revoking Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani’s mechanic certificate with immediate effect.

Alani was ordered temporarily detained on Friday.

Pilots of a flight from Miami to Nassau, Bahamas, on July 17 aborted takeoff plans after receiving an error message involving the flight computer, which reports speed, pitch and other data, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Miami.

It said after returning to the gate for maintenance, a mechanic discovered a loosely connected pitot tube, which measures airspeed and connects directly to the flight computer.

When Alani was interviewed, he told law enforcement officials he was upset at the stalled contract between the union and American, which he said had affected him financially, according to the complaint. A lawyer for Alani did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Unions have complained that American is trying to outsource more maintenance jobs, a move American has said is necessary to cover increased wages.

In a statement (bit.ly/2N09Na8) last week, American said it was scheduled to resume negotiations with its mechanics union at the National Mediation Board in Washington on Sept. 16.

A U.S. federal court last month issued a permanent injunction against American’s mechanics union, which the airline had accused of illegal slowdowns that it said had devastated its operations during the peak summer travel season.

A spokesman for American said last week the airline had an “unwavering commitment” to safety and security and had placed passengers on the July 17 flight subject to the criminal complaint on another plane to get to their destination.

On Thursday, Florida Senator Rick Scott asked the FAA about the security breach and “what protocols will you put in place to prevent this type of lapse from occurring again in the future?”

The FAA said it would respond to Scott directly. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Tom Brown)

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