News that an American Airlines mechanic in Miami sabotaged an aircraft before it prepared to take off with passengers was truly shocking. The man admitted that he wanted to delay or cancel the flight out of frustration with union contract talks, and to force more overtime work to fix the problem he had caused.
The two unions representing American’s mechanics came out with an unequivocal statement condemning “any conduct by any individual that jeopardizes the safe operation of an aircraft.”
American Airlines had to address the issue with employees as well. Here’s the memo that was sent internally:
Our commitment to safety In a letter to team members, David Seymour, Senior Vice President of Integrated Operations, shared an update on recent reports of a serious incident that occurred over the summer. Read the full letter below.
Dear fellow team members,
At American, safety is the foundation that supports everything we do. It is what our airline is built on. We are entrusted to care for our customers and each other, and we know all of you take that responsibility seriously every time you come to work.
Recent news reports of an extremely serious incident that occurred over the summer are disturbing and disappointing to all of us. The allegations involve one individual who compromised the safety of one of our aircraft. Fortunately, with appropriate safety protocols and processes, this individual’s actions were discovered and mitigated before our aircraft flew. We have been cooperating with authorities in this matter and will continue to do so.
Since the time of this incident, we are in a different place. We are seeing some operational improvements with fewer aircraft out of service at the start of the day. And, importantly, we have promising developments on the negotiations front and are scheduled to resume that work with the National Mediation Board (NMB) on Sept. 16. Next to a shared accountability for the safety of our aircraft and an unwavering respect for the tech ops profession, we and the Association remain committed to reaching a joint agreement for one contract for our entire Tech Ops team.
We maintain full trust and confidence in our team members and the intentional design of our rigorous safety policies and procedures. And, we continually work with governmental authorities and other subject matter experts to review pertinent security protocols and determine where there may be opportunities to make enhancements.
American is home to more than 15,000 Tech Ops professionals, which is more than any other airline in the world. They are outstanding safety professionals, and we are extremely appreciative and proud of them and the profession they represent. We consider them to be the best in the business, and it is important to not let this incident change that view.
Thank you for all you do at American to ensure safe operations for our 130,000 team members and safe travel for our hundreds of millions of customers.
Indeed American’s last week of their summer schedule (‘summer’ for them ended September 3, but this is the last full week) the airline performed better than it had through much of malaise and morass or mechanical meltdown that preceded.
Hopefully the permanent injunction against a work slowdown (and the threat of damages), combined with a collective will to fix things that got out of control in one instance, and a recognition by management they absolutely must start turning things around will mean that next week’s talks at the National Mediation Board in DC are constructive.