American Airlines Mechanic Gets 37 Month Prison Sentence

Filed Under: American

An American Airlines mechanic has just been sentenced to 37 months in prison for attempting to sabotage a plane.

What this American Airlines mechanic did

In September 2019, an American Airlines mechanic in Miami was charged with “willfully damaging, destroying or disabling an aircraft.”

The 60 year old mechanic, Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, had been at American Airlines for over 30 years. He attempted to disable the navigation system of a plane that was supposed to carry 150 people on a flight from Miami to Nassau on July 17, 2019.

Fortunately when the pilots powered up the plane’s engines they received an error message, so they ended up returning to the gate so that the plane could be taken out of service. That’s the point at which they determined the plane had been tampered with, and security footage showed it was Alani who was behind it.

How the mechanic justified his actions

The American Airlines mechanic had told investigators that his intention wasn’t to cause harm to the plane, but rather he was upset about stalled contract negotiations between the mechanics union and management, saying that the dispute had affected him financially.

He also claimed that he only did what he did in order to cause a delay or have the flight canceled in anticipation of obtaining overtime work. In other words, he broke something so that he’d be able to fix it during overtime.

In fairness, American Airlines had huge issues with their mechanics last summer, causing a countless number of cancelations and delays. Mechanics intentionally taking planes out of service was nothing new at the time, though literally sabotaging a plane was (hopefully) not something that was otherwise happening.

Mechanic receives 37 month prison sentence

Yesterday Alani was sentenced to 37 months in prison for his actions. When he was first charged, he was facing up to 20 years in prison if convicted, so I guess the sentencing wasn’t as bad as it could have been. But still, over three years in jail is quite a while…

Bottom line

Fortunately a few weeks ago American’s management and mechanics reached a new agreement, so there should be fewer issues going forward.

It’s anyone’s guess what Alani’s true intentions were. If he was actually trying to put the plane in danger then this was a dumb way to go about it, since this is something the onboard computer was almost certainly going to detect before takeoff (as it did).

If this was merely part of mechanics’ plans to take planes out of service to prove a point to management, then this really crossed the line. There’s a difference between taking a plane out of service to prove a point, and tampering with a plane and sending it on its way.

  1. “In fairness…” Really? A poor choice of words that probably unintentionally attempts to explain away pure recklessness and disregard for passenger safety. As a mechanic, he knew or should have known that what he was doing was incredibly wrong (no excuse) and possibly dangerous and could cause serious harm to those on board. I’m glad the courts didn’t render the sentence thinking: ‘well, at least it wasn’t a brake line.’ :-/

  2. “In fairness” ??!!!

    There is no justification for what he did and he should go to prison. Why do you offer an excuse for him?

  3. This is a poor choice of words…
    “In fairness, American Airlines had huge issues with their mechanics last summer, causing a countless number of cancelations and delays. ”

    There’s no justification for this jerks actions. This could have caused a chain reaction of events, that could’ve led to more serious issues.

  4. I normally don’t nitpick words, but I do agree that saying “in fairness” in this context presents a false dichotomy here. Kind of like that politician who said there were “very fine people on both sides.”

  5. “In fairness”

    the attitude these days is to not judge anyone for anything, even if its morally or criminally wrong. the Z gen had the utmost respect for being politically correct.

  6. Thirty-seven months is a slap on the wrist. It should have been 20 years. I hope this loser never works for an airline again.

  7. The plane was never going to take off. Just have a mechanical delay. A reasonable sentence. If you read the article he’s put up with American for over 30 years.

  8. No matter what issues you have at your job, you can never justify endangering passenger lives due to a spat with your employer. I’ve work at a hospital for over 15 years, would it be “in fairness” if I sabotaged someone’s medicine or treatment because I had disagreements about my benefits with the hospital?

  9. I don’t know much about airplane mechanics, but was there a chance that this plane would have taken off with the tampered nav system? I’m guessing not, and the mechanic probably knew this. So I don’t think any passengers were in potential danger.

  10. ” So I don’t think any passengers were in potential danger.” Easy to say when you or a loved when were not on the flight. Why is it so hard for some of you to condemn this act?

  11. 37 months is a ridiculously light sentence. Hundreds of people could have died because of this mechanic’s greed. Luckily the pilots caught the damage, but what if they didn’t? This could have turned into a horrible tragedy.

  12. Some of the comments above are ridiculous. He’s been a mechanic for over 30 years so he clearly knows what he’s doing. If he really meant to cause harm to passengers, why would he tamper with the plane in such a way that it was so easily discoverable by the pilots?

    Airline travel is safe based on redundancies built in to the system. nevertheless, removing a major support is criminal. You never know what pressures a flight crew is under and either does not notice or accepts to fly with a defect.
    The behavior was grossly criminal and might even be considered terrorism.

  14. In fairness – Boeing’s MCAS on their 737-Max was tested and approved by FAA – therefore they have absolutely no culpability to the two disasters that took place on those planes…

    Horrible choice of words here, I think this article should be amended because it sounds like you are on the side of this “poor” mechanic who wasn’t getting his $40/hr overtime.

    And shame on any of you that think this maintenance guy should get off light because he “knew” what he was doing wouldn’t cause a disaster. Now THAT is ridiculous.

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