American Airlines mechanic accused of attempted sabotage of flight with 150 on board

A mechanic for American Airlines was arrested Thursday and accused of trying to sabotage a commercial airliner shortly before it was set to take off from Mia...

Posted: Sep 6, 2019 9:55 AM
Updated: Sep 6, 2019 12:00 PM

A mechanic for American Airlines was arrested Thursday and accused of trying to sabotage a commercial airliner shortly before it was set to take off from Miami International Airport for the Bahamas with 150 people on board.

Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani has been charged with 'willfully damaging, destroying, disabling, or wrecking an aircraft, and attempting to do so,' according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.

Alani allegedly tried to damage or disable the aircraft's air data module (ADM) system, which reports aircraft speed, pitch and other critical data, on July 17.

On Thursday, investigators interviewed Alani and he 'admitted that he accessed the ADM' and that he 'inserted a piece of foam into the ADM's inlet where the line connects and that he applied super glue to the foam so as to prevent the foam from coming off,' the complaint says.

'Alani stated that his intention was not to cause harm to the aircraft or its passengers,' investigators say in the complaint.

The court documents say Alani told investigators that he was upset over a contract dispute between union workers and the airlines, and the dispute had cost him money.

Alani allegedly explained that he tampered with the aircraft so he could get overtime working on the plane.

As the plane went down the runway and pilots increased power to the engines, there was an error related to the ADM system and the takeoff was aborted.

The aircraft returned to the concourse and no one on board was injured, the complaint says.

American Airlines mechanics immediately inspected the aircraft and 'discovered a loosely connected pitot tube, which connects directly to the ADM' and determined 'the ADM appeared to have been deliberately obstructed with what appeared to be a dark Styrofoam-type material,' according to the complaint.

Authorities used surveillance video to identify Alani, the document says.

American Airlines, in a statement to CNN, said, 'At American we have an unwavering commitment to the safety and security of our customers and team members and we are taking this matter very seriously. At the time of the incident, the aircraft was taken out of service, maintenance was performed and after a inspection to ensure it was safe the aircraft was returned to service. American immediately notified federal law enforcement who took over the investigation with our full cooperation.'

CNN reached out to Alani without success Thursday and is attempting to determine whether he has an attorney.

He is scheduled to make an initial appearance in Miami on Friday, said Marlene Fernandez-Karavetsos, a spokeswoman for the US Attorney's office in the Southern District of Florida.

Correction: Earlier versions of this story misspelled the last name of Marlene Fernandez-Karavetsos.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 491771

Reported Deaths: 33418
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Queens758537290
Kings741147381
Bronx547924985
Nassau490422208
Suffolk483992019
Westchester398901470
New York354593192
Rockland17581683
Richmond169291094
Orange13342505
Erie12705713
Monroe6992300
Dutchess5403163
Onondaga5222207
Albany3516136
Broome326283
Oneida2644128
Ulster245095
Niagara2016101
Putnam178063
Sullivan171448
Schenectady153050
Chemung15103
Saratoga126517
Rensselaer106442
Steuben92957
Chautauqua86813
Columbia66738
Ontario62935
Oswego6074
Tompkins5850
Madison55217
Tioga51230
Cortland4880
Greene48818
Cattaraugus4476
Warren44533
Wayne4085
Herkimer38010
Orleans37954
St. Lawrence3794
Otsego3785
Genesee3775
Fulton36124
Chenango3587
Cayuga3512
Washington32714
Livingston2668
Allegany2641
Montgomery2614
Clinton2325
Jefferson1970
Essex1950
Wyoming1775
Delaware1667
Seneca1393
Schuyler1110
Yates1077
Schoharie1040
Franklin790
Lewis680
Hamilton160
Unassigned021
Utica
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 43°
Oneonta
Overcast
41° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 36°
Herkimer
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 43°
Thendara
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 43°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Click here to learn more about A Healthier Mohawk Valley
VOTE OCTOBER 22-30
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve
WKTV Golf Card - Under 150 left