2 Emergency landings at JFK due to loose seats

Photo of the unbolted seats from AA Flight 686

October 1, 2012 8:27:21 PM PDT
It's something passengers would rather not have to worry about. An American Airlines Boeing 757 en route to Miami, forced to divert to JFK after a row of seats became unbolted in-flight.

American Airlines is scrambling to figure out what or who may be causing seats on planes to come loose.

In the last three days, two Boeing 757's have had to turn back mid-flight after seats disengaged from their rails.

The latest incident happened Monday when a flight from JFK to Miami turned back after takeoff.

"The seats flipped backwards and so people were on the laps of the passengers behind them with their legs up in the air," a passenger said.

Over the weekend, Flight 685 from Boston to Miami was the first to encounter the problem.

"685, what can I do for you? Roger, I got an unusual one for you," you could hear on an air traffic control recording.

The recordings capture how even the pilot seemed to be in disbelief.

The plane eventually declared an emergency and landed at JFK because a row of seats came of its rails.

"During climb out, rows, passenger seats row 12,D,E and F came loose out of the floor," the pilot said on the air traffic control recording, "We don't want that thing flying around and hurting the passenger behind it, seat is loose and can rotate pretty quickly."

The Federal Aviation Administration is looking into both incidents and the jetliners involved have been taken out of service.

American Airlines is conducting an internal investigation.

American is already in the middle of a labor dispute with its unions, including the maintenance workers who repair the planes.

The airline calls any claims that the loose seats could be part of some organized work action quote "irresponsible" and "outrageous".

The FAA released a statement saying: "The Federal Aviation Administration is looking into two separate incidents involving American Airlines Boeing 757 jetliners that were taken out of service after passenger seat rows became loose in flight.

On Saturday, American Flight 65, on a flight from Boston to Miami, diverted to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and on Monday, Flight 443, from JFK to Miami, returned to JFK without incident after loose seats were discovered. The airline's initial inspection of each aircraft found other rows of seats that were not properly secured.

Preliminary information indicates that both aircraft had recently undergone maintenance during which the seats had been removed and re-installed. Including these two airplanes, the airline has taken eight aircraft with similar seat assemblies out of service until they can be inspected."

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