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October 8, 2012

Airline's Perfect Storm: American Airlines passenger seats become unhinged mid-flight

On Saturday, Sept. 29, some passengers on an American Airlines flight from Boston to Miami thought they were on a frightening carnival ride rather than a 757 when they found themselves in seats that became unhinged from the floor and moved in the plane's cabin—mid-flight.

The seats were reportedly not properly attached and became unbolted. While the passengers in the loose seats were moved to more secure seats, the plane was diverted and made an emergency landing at NYC's JFK airport.

Another similar incident occurred in flight on Monday, Oct. 1, also causing a emergency landing, and four more planes were found to have the same seat issues during inspections.  On Tuesday, Oct. 2, American announced it would need to inspect 47 of its 102 Boeing 757 aircrafts. American's 757s were manufactured from 1988 to 2002 and many of them are in industry parlance, "tired iron," needing special maintenance attention.

In addition to being in bankruptcy, American Airlines is currently in a dispute with its pilots' union. On Oct. 1, Motley Rice attorney and former U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General Mary Schiavo joined Neil Cavuto on Fox News to discuss the maintenance incidents, the FAA Operational Risk Surveillance Program put in place at American, and the future of American Airlines.

"American Airlines is in a perfect storm on maintenance. They are in bankruptcy. The FAA is watching, or is supposed to be watching them more closely. They have one of the oldest fleets in the industry. Last year, they were fined $162 million for maintenance violations. Now they are going to lay off maintenance people—they are in a tough situation. It is disconcerting."

Mary Schiavo also joined CNN's Erin Burnett on Outfront on Tuesday, Oct. 2 to discuss even more maintenance problems within the last two days involving American Airlines and aviation safety. "We need to give American time to heal …. I think they can fix their problems if they do a top-down scrub." Mary noted she would not be flying American Airlines until they fixed their problems.

The FAA is investigating the incidents, and, in the meantime, American Airlines is inspecting many of its planes.

Read about Motley Rice's aviation lawyers and how they work to protect passenger rights and fight on behalf of victims' family members and injured plane crash survivors.