Seats Gone Wild | 47 American 757-200’s To Be Inspected

American Airlines Boeing 757-200

American Airlines Boeing 757-200

Updated 8:30am, October 3rd with latest American Airlines statement.

New Seats Come Loose Mid-Flght on AA Boeing 757-200’s

American Airlines flight 685 departed on what was to be a routine flight from Boston-Logan Airport (BOS) to Miami International Airport (MIA) on September 29th. Shortly after departure, a row of seats came loose on the Boeing 757-200 operating the flight, prompting the crew to make an emergency landing at New York’s Kennedy (JFK) airport. Passengers sitting in the row that came loose found themselves flipped backyards on top of one another, getting to know each other unexpectedly.

Two days later, American Flight 443 from New York Kennedy (JFK) to Miami International (MIA), also a Boeing 757-200 with refitted seats, had a row of seats pop loose along with its occupants. Thankfully no injuries have been reported.

Modern airline seats are designed to withstand a significant G-force which may be experienced in an emergency and should never be loose, let alone come off the seating track.

The FAA is opening an investigation regarding this matter and American Airlines initially grounded eight Boeing 757-200’s which have undergone maintenance to install the new seats. American Airlines has just announced a total of 47 Boeing 757-200’s will be taken out of service overnight for inspection.

A team of in-house American Airlines mechanics with the TWU (Transport Workers Union of America) have been dispatched from Tulsa to look at the aircraft as well.

You’ve likely heard this through a news outlet already but the reporting hasn’t been clear in all circumstances.

As to the seats — American Airlines is currently re-fitting their cabins with Main Cabin Extra seats which provide a bit of extra space, but they are also using lighter seats with a different recline mechanism.

The new seats were not installed by American Airlines mechanics, but by TIMCO, a contracted third party. The carrier, already facing negative press with labor issues, has not made public the seat manufacturer.

The type of seat used involves what is known as a saddle clamp, which American Airlines spokeswomen, Andrea Huguely elaborates on.

American Airlines spokeswoman, Andrea Huguley, said, “Overnight, a group of engineers, tech crew chiefs and inspectors from American’s Tulsa Maintenance Base evaluated airplanes at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport while other airplanes were inspected at other facilities around the country. Originally, American planned to evaluate the seats on eight Boeing 757 airplanes, but out of an abundance of caution, the decision was made to proactively evaluate a total of 47 Boeing 757 airplanes that have the same model Main Cabin seats with a common locking mechanism. Thirty-six airplanes were evaluated by maintenance personnel overnight and another 11 airplanes will be evaluated to finish the inspection.”

“American’s internal investigation has focused on one of three types of Main Cabin seats on the 757s and how the rows of these three seats fit into the track that is used to secure the rows to the floor of the airplanes. Our maintenance and engineering teams have discovered that a possible root cause is a saddle clamp improperly installed on the foot of the row leg. These clamps were used on only 47 of our 102 Boeing 757 airplanes.”

“The FAA is aware of our internal review and its findings, as well as the steps we are taking to proactively address the issue. We continue to work closely with the FAA.”

“American regrets the inconvenience that this maintenance issue may have caused customers on affected flights. Safety is – and always will be – American’s top concern.”

Labor Problems and Outsourcing at American Airlines

The problem with the seats coming loose is not associated with any of the labor problems at American. The mechanics are represented by the TWU which is upset American is outsourcing work to 3rd party facilities, especially those in China where concerns of work being done correctly combined with a lack of oversight exist.

Some work being done by the TWU is now being outsourced to third parties overseas as part of American’s Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in which the company is being re-organized.

Previously, all maintenance work was done in-house at American.

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