Published On: Tue, Oct 2nd, 2012

American to reinspect eight 757s after loose seats found midflight on an aircraft on Saturday

American Airlines said it will inspect eight Boeing 757 aircraft in its fleet after a row of seats became loose during a flight on Saturday.

The Fort Worth-based carrier said there could be an issue with a particular model of seats and added it has contacted the Federal Aviation Administration about a possible problem.

"An initial internal investigation into why a row of seats became loose on two American Airlines Boeing 757s has indicated that there could be a possible issue with a certain model of seats and how they fit into the tracking used to secure the seats," said American spokesman Andrea Huguely.

On Saturday, American flight 685 from Boston to Miami made an emergency landing at New York's JFK Airport when a row of seats shifted in air. The passengers in that row were moved to other seats and no one was injured during the landing. Passengers were then placed on another aircraft to continue to Miami.

American said it found a loose row of seats on another Boeing 757 at JFK Airport on Monday, prompting the reinspection of similar aircraft. The company said it flew engineers and mechanics from its Tulsa maintenance base to New York to examine the aircraft.

One of the affected airplanes had been worked on at one of American's in-house maintenance facility while the other had maintenance work performed on it at a third-party aircraft maintenance company, Huguely said.

"Preliminary information indicates that both aircraft had recently undergone maintenance during which the seats had been removed and reinstalled," the FAA said in an e-mailed statement. American's additional checks on the two 757s "found other rows of seats that were not properly secured."

The maintenance issue is the latest challenge for American as it has struggled with numerous flight delays and cancellations in the past two weeks.

The carrier has blamed its operational problems partly on last-minute maintenance requests by pilots. The pilots' union denies that it has coordinated a work slow-down.

As of 7 p.m. on Monday, American's on-time arrival rate was 61 percent with 17 cancelled arrivals for the day. Its competitors, United Continental and Delta Air Lines, had on-time rates of 85 percent and 79 percent respectively on Monday.

American is also preparing to shift more of its maintenance work to third-party companies, like TIMCO and ST Aerospace, as it closes its Alliance Fort Worth maintenance facility in the next few months and layoffs close to 4,000 employees, including 2,600 mechanics, store clerks and other ground service personnel.

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