News & Politics

American Airlines Mechanic Charged with Sabotaging Plane with 150 Passengers Onboard

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For those who already hate flying, this story will only serve to provide justification for your fears. Because the next time you board a plane, you’re going to remember that American Airlines mechanic Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani was arrested Thursday and charged with “willfully damaging, destroying or disabling an aircraft.” The Miami Herald broke the story yesterday and reports that the flight had 150 people on board. Thankfully, the flight was aborted after the pilots received an error message.

During an inspection of the aircraft, it was discovered that foam had been glued inside “the tube leading from outside the plane to its air data module, a system that reports aircraft speed, pitch, and other critical flight data.” If the pilots had taken off, they would’ve been forced to operate the plane manually without the aid of computers.

The Miami Herald reports that after the maintenance check uncovered the tampering:

Federal air marshals zeroed in on Alani, a longtime American Airlines mechanic, after reviewing video footage that captured him exiting a white truck on the morning of July 17 at concourse D and approaching the plane, which had just arrived from Orlando, the affidavit says. The footage showed Alani, who walks with a limp, accessing the aircraft’s compartment where the navigational system was located in the plane, according to the affidavit, which was filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Apparently, Abdul-Majeed was upset that contract negotiations between the airline and his union had stalled. He insisted to federal air marshals that he only wanted to delay the flight. According to the statements he provided, “his intention was not to cause harm to the aircraft or its passengers.”

Whether he intended to cause harm or not, Abdul-Majeed’s actions are serious and disturbing. Even with the knowledge that the pilots were most likely more than qualified to fly the plane manually, it’s not hard to imagine this story ending tragically.

I hate flying. I’m too tall and too much of a control freak. Between the lack of space between the seats and the realization that I am depending on many, many people whom I’ve never met and have no idea if they’re trustworthy to keep the elongated tube tens of thousands of feet in the air, where humans were never meant to be, is too much for me to handle. Thankfully, both airports and airplanes serve booze. However, the next time I fly, I will be unable to keep my mind from thinking about the American Airlines mechanic who has been charged with sabotaging a flight out of Miami. I don’t think that self-medicating will work next time.