American Airlines, facing labor unhappiness over cutbacks, blamed three incidents of passenger seats coming loose on an improperly installed clamp, officials said on Tuesday.
The announcement came after an inspection of Boeing 757 craft in which the clamp was used, officials said. At least three flights had incidents of the seats coming loose in recent days.
“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,” said a statement attributed to spokeswoman Andrea Huguely.
“Our maintenance and engineering teams have discovered that the 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.”
All 47 airplanes will be inspected, the airline said. Thirty-six planes were examined overnight, and 11 other planes will be evaluated as well.
The incidents also led to an investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration.
“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,” Huguely stated. “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.”
Earlier in the day, the airline had reported that seats came loose on a flight last week from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to Vail, Colo.
On Saturday, a flight from Boston to Miami made an emergency landing in New York after three passenger seats came loose shortly after takeoff. The airline said there were no injuries, and passengers were put on another plane to Miami.
On Monday, an American flight from New York to Miami returned to John F. Kennedy International Airport after loose seats were discovered. This was the same plane as the one involved in last week’s incident, the FAA said in a statement released on Tuesday.
“Preliminary information indicates that both aircraft had recently undergone maintenance during which the seats had been removed and re-installed,” according to the FAA.
The problems with the seats come as American is also dealing with unhappiness by its workers over layoffs and cuts in pay and benefits in the wake of the airline seeking bankruptcy protection in November. American has also accused some pilots of conducting an illegal work slowdown.
In its comments, American, has dismissed the idea that its employees engaged in any sabotage. The planes were worked on by different crews in different cities.