American grounds 47 jets for seat inspections



Associated Press

Posted on October 2, 2012 at 1:55 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 2 at 7:09 PM

FORT WORTH — American Airlines has now grounded 47 jets after finding more loose passenger seats.

The bankrupt carrier said it decided to expand the inspections of its Boeing 757 fleet after the loose seats were discovered on a total of six planes, including a flight last week that originated at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport bound for Vail, Colorado.

Some problems were not discovered until the planes were in flight, requiring unplanned landings.

American said the issue was identified as workers were moving seats to create more legroom, but the seats were repositioned incorrectly. The airline explained that a "saddle clamp" was likely put on backwards, causing rows of seats to pop loose.

The problem was not always properly corrected. The seats came loose on one jet twice in a five-day period after maintenance workers thought they had it fixed the first time.

American Airlines said inspectors are now carefully reviewing each plane to ensure that it doesn't happen again.

"We're focusing our attention on making sure that they're properly installed," said American spokesman David Campbell. "We're giving each mechanic very detailed instructions last night. We have a great deal of confidence that the aircraft are operating and that they are very sound."

American's maintenance workers blamed the carrier for using outside contractors for the work, something that the airline strongly denies. It said loose seats were found on aircraft that were maintained by outside vendors and by in-house workers.

The airline said 36 jets have already been inspected and returned to service; 11 more will be examined on Tuesday night.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it is looking into the incidents.