What ended as a routine July day could have been a very different day for dozens of American families.
An American Airlines mechanic was arrested on Thursday after allegedly disabling the navigation system on a commercial airliner carrying 150 passengers in July.
To think of the disaster that could have happened if the tampering had not been discovered is, well, unthinkable.
Thankfully, we will never know just how bad it would have been. The plane was meant to take off with 150 passengers, but disaster was averted, thanks to the flight crew who noticed a malfunction while preparing for takeoff.
When the crew powered up the engines for pre-position on takeoff, they noticed an error on the air data module (ADM). This is the system that records pitch, speed, and other data from the aircraft during flight.
The crew aborted takeoff and was ordered to take the plane back in for maintenance.
When the plane was inspected, a mechanic spotted a “dark Styrofoam-type material” that was causing the malfunction of the ADM.
Terrorism Ruled Out
Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, the American Airlines mechanic charged in the case, was apparently upset with union negotiations with the airline.
He stated that a recent dispute between his union and the airline was costing him financially.
He said he had not planned on harming anyone but only wanted the flight canceled or delayed so he could rack up some overtime. To do this, he “glued the foam inside the tube leading from outside the plane to its air data module.”
After the problem was spotted and fixed, the plane was cleared for use and was put back in service the next day. Alani was identified by his fellow mechanics, as he had taken extra time to put his plan in place prior to takeoff.
As of September 5th, Alani is now in custody after admitting to tampering with the system. He now faces charges of sabotage.