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American Airlines mechanic in Miami charged with sabotaging plane. It aborted takeoff

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American Airlines mechanic in Miami charged with sabotaging plane. It aborted takeoff

Old 6th Sep 2019, 03:53
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American Airlines mechanic in Miami charged with sabotaging plane. It aborted takeoff

From the Miami Herald 2019_09_05:
An American Airlines mechanic was arrested Thursday on a sabotage charge accusing him of disabling a navigation system on a flight with 150 people aboard before it was scheduled to take off from Miami International Airport earlier this summer.

The reason, according to a criminal complaint affidavit filed in Miami federal court: Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, a veteran employee, was upset over stalled union contract negotiations.

None of the passengers and crew on the flight to Nassau were injured because the tampering with the so-called air data module caused an error alert as the pilots powered up the plane’s engines on the runway July 17, according to a criminal complaint affidavit filed in Miami federal court. As a result, flight No. 2834 was aborted and taken out of service for routine maintenance at America’s hangar at MIA, which is when the tampering with the ADM system was discovered during an inspection.

An AA mechanic found a loosely connected tube in front of the nose gear underneath the cockpit that had been deliberately obstructed with some sort of hard foam material.Alani is charged with “willfully damaging, destroying or disabling an aircraft” and is expected to have his first appearance in Miami federal court on Friday.According to the complaint filed Thursday,

Alani glued the foam 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. As a result, if the plane had taken off that day from MIA, the pilots would have had to operate the aircraft manually because the ADM system would not have received any computer data. After his arrest Thursday, the affidavit says that Alani told federal air marshals assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force that “his intention was not to cause harm to the aircraft or its passengers.

”He said that his motive in tampering with the navigational system was because he was “upset” over stalled contract negotiations between the mechanics’ union and American Airlines that has raged for months — that “the dispute had affected him financially. ”He further said he only tampered with the plane’s air data module “in order to cause a delay or have the flight canceled in anticipation of obtaining overtime work,” according to the affidavit.

Relations have become so strained between the 12,000-employee mechanics’ union and American Airlines that the organization vowed a “bloody” battle over the course of the summer that has led to bitter legal fights in Texas, where the company is headquartered.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. Alani, the federal charges said, spent about seven minutes doing the sabotage.

The air marshals, part of the Transportation Security Administration, also conducted interviews with three other AA mechanics who were with Alani after he tampered with the plane. They helped investigators identify him from the video footage. It was not yet clear if Alani had retained an attorney.
Here's the link: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/loc...234766107.html
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Last edited by T28B; 6th Sep 2019 at 18:33. Reason: add link
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Old 6th Sep 2019, 06:17
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Originally Posted by Clay_T
From the Miami Harold 2019_09_05:
I can't post links yet but /news/local/article234766107.html should get you there.


Sorry about the formatting.
Well, he won't have to worry about overtime for the next twenty-to-life.......
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Old 6th Sep 2019, 08:46
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I checked flightradar24 data but the aircraft was never on the active runway, only on the taxiway. But that's what the newspapers made of it ;-)

https://www.flightradar24.com/data/f...a2834#2153622b
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Old 6th Sep 2019, 11:35
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Originally Posted by luchtzak
I checked flightradar24 data but the aircraft was never on the active runway, only on the taxiway. But that's what the newspapers made of it ;-)

https://www.flightradar24.com/data/f...a2834#2153622b
Right, and then there's this:

. . . the pilots would have had to operate the aircraft manually because the ADM system would not have received any computer data.
But you can't expect every general assignment reporter and editor to understand technical details that might apply to any story they cover.

Relations between AA and its mechanics must be very bad indeed. Still, there aren't many people in airline maintenance jobs who would even consider doing something like this, no matter how frustrated they might be with management.

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Old 6th Sep 2019, 12:43
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What a sad story. A person in a safety critical role deliberately sabotaging a critical aircraft system. How on earth did American Airlines manage to create such a toxic work environment for their employees? I don't in any way condone the actions of this member of staff before anyone suggests otherwise.
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Old 6th Sep 2019, 14:06
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Originally Posted by CherokeeDriver
How on earth did American Airlines manage to create such a toxic work environment for their employees?
Ruining their pension may have done it. I know a lot of their pilots are extremely unhappy too.
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Old 6th Sep 2019, 18:20
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Originally Posted by CherokeeDriver
What a sad story. A person in a safety critical role deliberately sabotaging a critical aircraft system. How on earth did American Airlines manage to create such a toxic work environment for their employees? I don't in any way condone the actions of this member of staff before anyone suggests otherwise.
Many years ago, my oldest sister managed to get herself fired from a decent job as a supermarket checkout for stealing (shoplifting). When we asked her why she'd done something so stupid, her response was that the union told them the supermarket was stealing from the employees, so she was justified in stealing back Now, she was an intelligent person (by IQ, she was the smartest of us three kids), but had somehow convinced herself the logic of her actions.
Toxic rhetoric can have unexpected (and very undesirable) results.
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Old 6th Sep 2019, 19:04
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Originally Posted by TURIN
Ruining their pension may have done it. I know a lot of their pilots are extremely unhappy too.
Well he has found a solution then. He won’t be needing a pension where he will be going.
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Old 6th Sep 2019, 22:13
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The guy is an idiot, not a terrorist. Would this even be on the news, let alone on FBI "joint terrorism task force", if his name was Joe Bob Whitaker? I wonder.
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Old 6th Sep 2019, 22:40
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If it was a total pressure (pitot) tube that was blocked, then I don't see how the crew would see an airspeed mismatch problem until about 30 or 40 knots on takeoff, since that's ram air pressure he blocked. Maybe I'm missing something here from the flawed and spotty reporting. ??
I guess somebody crazy is bound to do this once in a while. This guy accessed the aircraft on the tarmac, unusual at the time since the plane had no outstanding problem reports to fix.

Also, why did it take so long to arrest this dude? Sabotage happend in July, and he was arrested in Sept. I think they found and fixed the problem and knew the foam didn't just magically appear there.
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Old 6th Sep 2019, 22:41
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Originally Posted by UltraFan
The guy is an idiot, not a terrorist. Would this even be on the news, let alone on FBI "joint terrorism task force", if his name was Joe Bob Whitaker? I wonder.
He will probably claim that he was profiled as an Iraqi who speaks little English but has worked on American Airlines planes for three decades.

From the article linked above:

At Friday’s first appearance, Alani spoke halting English and the judge asked for an Arabic interpreter to translate.

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Old 6th Sep 2019, 23:48
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Originally Posted by Airbubba

He will probably claim that he was profiled as an Iraqi who speaks little English but has worked on American Airlines planes for three decades.
I'm pretty sure that his lawyers will explain that the video evidence makes anything other than humble cooperation, in hope of a plea deal, the only rational way forward for this guy.

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Old 6th Sep 2019, 23:54
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Originally Posted by UltraFan
The guy is an idiot, not a terrorist. Would this even be on the news, let alone on FBI "joint terrorism task force", if his name was Joe Bob Whitaker? I wonder.
I think sabotage of a commercial airliner is pretty much guaranteed to get the attention of the feds and the regional terrorism task force in our current environment. And it's a pretty good bet that the media would run with any story like this one.

You're definitely right that he's an idiot and not a terrorist, but that might not be how a jury under the influence of an aggressive federal prosecutor would see it. I don't think it would be very smart for this guy's lawyers to let him go to trial.
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 00:56
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Originally Posted by UltraFan
The guy is an idiot, not a terrorist. Would this even be on the news, let alone on FBI "joint terrorism task force", if his name was Joe Bob Whitaker? I wonder.

yes, indeed they would be...remember whe have non middle eastern terrorists as well in the good ole USA...nice try though
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 01:02
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You don't go through the trouble of gluing a piece of foam in a air data port to cause overtime work, you do that to cause a crash.
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 01:08
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Originally Posted by UltraFan
The guy is an idiot, not a terrorist. Would this even be on the news, let alone on FBI "joint terrorism task force", if his name was Joe Bob Whitaker? I wonder.
Why to you assume that? Because an LEA has provided that line to a news organization? Do you really believe what you hear from the press? And it is not possible that the investigation is on-going with other targets to be had? And yes we have plenty of Joe Bob Whitaker's that are terrorists. Clearly you do not understand how law enforcement works.
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 04:46
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This guy seems to be an expert on the pitot static system from his 2008 firing at Alaska Airlines. In his discrimination lawsuit against Alaska he said that he sometimes prayed on his prayer rug during breaks. Surely that means you can't fire him, right?





Although he was working in Miami at the time he is suspected of sabotaging the plane, and when he was arrested on Thursday, he was previously based in California, according to public records and the discrimination lawsuit filed by Alani. The FBI described him in a statement to Business insider as a resident of Tracy, California, a town about 60 miles east of San Francisco, where he appears to have been previously based — it was unclear whether Alani had moved to the Florida area, or whether he was commuting for duty using employee travel benefits.

Court documents show that from 1998 to 2008, Alani was also employed by Alaska Airlines. The airline confirmed his dates of employment to Business Insider. He was fired from the airline in 2008 following a maintenance mistake after working there for about 10 years, according to the discrimination lawsuit he filed against Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airlines also confirmed to Business Insider that Alani was an employee for several months in 1990.

He sued the airline in 2010, alleging he was discriminated against; the court found in favor of Alaska the following year.

In 2007, Alani made a mistake when installing an altimeter, according to the court documents of the judgement, and he submitted an ASAP report and notified the FAA of the potential safety hazard. Afterward, Alani was given an oral warning and told to attend training sessions again, according to the court documents.

Also in 2007, he made a mistake while installing a pitot tube, a sensor that helps determine a plane's air speed, according to documents Alaska Airlines entered as evidence. The FAA launched an investigation, while the airline gave Alani a written warning, the documents say.

In 2008, according to additional court documents from Alaska, Alani and another employee accidentally installed the wrong battery on a plane. Alani filed another ASAP report and was told that day that he would be suspended pending an internal investigation, according to the documents. Like with the pitot-tube incident, the FAA opened its own investigation, according to the documents, and two weeks later, Alani was fired.

When he was terminated, Alaska Airlines told Alani he was being discharged because of the battery incident, the HGS mistake, and the altimeter issue, the court documents say. Alaska also alleged during the lawsuit that while the airline was investigating the battery episode, the airline found at least three occasions in which Alani was clocked in at both Alaska and his other job at American Airlines.

Alani also had his avionics-technician certificate suspended by the FAA for 30 days after the investigation into the battery error, according to the court documents.


https://www.businessinsider.com/amer...irlines-2019-9
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 17:10
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Originally Posted by QuagmireAirlines
If it was a total pressure (pitot) tube that was blocked, then I don't see how the crew would see an airspeed mismatch problem until about 30 or 40 knots on takeoff, since that's ram air pressure he blocked. Maybe I'm missing something here from the flawed and spotty reporting. ??
I guess somebody crazy is bound to do this once in a while. This guy accessed the aircraft on the tarmac, unusual at the time since the plane had no outstanding problem reports to fix.

Also, why did it take so long to arrest this dude? Sabotage happend in July, and he was arrested in Sept. I think they found and fixed the problem and knew the foam didn't just magically appear there.
If a pitot tube is completely blocked on the ground, and the barometric pressure falls substantially from what it was at the time the blockage occurred, the trapped pressure (compared to the still open static port), can cause the airspeed to show a positive reading. This happened once to me with a Gulfstream G200. The pitot tube cover was made of molded plastic and had no vent hole. Apparently it made a completely airtight seal when installed on the pilot side pitot tube. We installed the covers when bringing the aircraft into the hangar after a flight on a day when the barometric pressure was 30.45 in/hg. A few days later, I powered up the aircraft on the GPU to do a preflight maintenance check, when the barometric pressure was about 29.75 in/hg. I thought there was an ADC failure because the pilot airspeed was showing about 65 knots. It took a few minutes to figure out what was going on. After pulling the pitot cover off, the false airspeed reading disappeared. At least it proved that the pitot line from the tube to the ADC was completely leak free on that particular aircraft...
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Old 8th Sep 2019, 08:42
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Originally Posted by UltraFan
The guy is an idiot, not a terrorist. Would this even be on the news, let alone on FBI "joint terrorism task force", if his name was Joe Bob Whitaker? I wonder.
Let me disagree here. An idiot would have caused problems through incompetence or negligence. However, that guy was acting maliciously.
That makes him at least a criminal, and given the number of potentially affected people, a classification as a terrorist is not too far away.
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Old 8th Sep 2019, 16:36
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Originally Posted by JRBarrett
If a pitot tube is completely blocked on the ground, and the barometric pressure falls substantially from what it was at the time the blockage occurred, the trapped pressure (compared to the still open static port), can cause the airspeed to show a positive reading. This happened once to me with a Gulfstream G200. The pitot tube cover was made of molded plastic and had no vent hole. Apparently it made a completely airtight seal when installed on the pilot side pitot tube. We installed the covers when bringing the aircraft into the hangar after a flight on a day when the barometric pressure was 30.45 in/hg. A few days later, I powered up the aircraft on the GPU to do a preflight maintenance check, when the barometric pressure was about 29.75 in/hg. I thought there was an ADC failure because the pilot airspeed was showing about 65 knots. It took a few minutes to figure out what was going on. After pulling the pitot cover off, the false airspeed reading disappeared. At least it proved that the pitot line from the tube to the ADC was completely leak free on that particular aircraft...
Good story! Yours was sealed up well, and this Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani nut-job used foam so didn't get a seal. Yet it would be enough to mess up total (ram air) pressure. Good thing the air crew was alert enough to abort the takeoff.

Wondering how a person with that record years ago got hired by American Airlines. No evidence he aligns himself with middle eastern lunatics here, yet his incompetence alone should have raised alarm bells. ..... I'll look for more and accurate news reporting on this subject, if somebody will cover it. For example, I still think it's bizarre how the sabotage happened in July, and obviously discovered, while it took over a month to arrest the crazy person.
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