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: 423440

Reported Deaths: 32805
CountyConfirmedDeaths
New York City22916723610
Suffolk439871998
Nassau437952195
Westchester363571447
Rockland13973674
Orange11210491
Erie9033671
Monroe5079285
Dutchess4640153
Onondaga3627200
Albany2636128
Oneida2183115
Ulster208192
Niagara151898
Sullivan149148
Putnam145563
Broome115369
Schenectady108437
Rensselaer78230
Saratoga77417
Columbia55037
Madison41717
Ontario36534
Warren31233
Steuben30142
Fulton30024
Orleans29954
Greene29618
Genesee2805
Herkimer2784
St. Lawrence2634
Wayne2633
Chautauqua2609
Washington26014
Oswego2583
Tompkins2340
Chenango2186
Tioga19425
Chemung1843
Montgomery1794
Livingston1768
Cattaraugus1696
Cayuga1622
Jefferson1420
Clinton1294
Otsego1185
Wyoming1185
Delaware1074
Cortland970
Seneca923
Allegany801
Schoharie690
Yates587
Essex560
Franklin540
Lewis470
Schuyler220
Hamilton80
Unassigned00
Utica
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 70°
Oneonta
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 64°
Herkimer
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 70°
Thendara
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 70°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Click here to learn more about A Healthier Mohawk Valley
Ask EPLC Sweepstakes
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve
Senior Send-Off brought to you by Herkimer College
WKTV Golf Card - Under 150 left