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Lawsuit Alleges American Airlines Forces Its Mechanics To Commit Maintenance Fraud

January 25, 2015 - On Thursday, the Transport Workers Union, Local 591 filed a lawsuit against American Airlines on behalf of American Airlines mechanics in Dallas and Chicago in U.S. District Court in Chicago. The lawsuit alleges the following: 

1) The airline encouraged aircraft technicians to resort to maintenance fraud as a means to improve “efficiency”

2) Managers and supervisors instructed aircraft technicians not to perform lightning strike inspections, despite clear evidence of lightning strike damage, unless the technicians had actually witnessed the lightning striking the aircraft;


3) Supervisors pressured aviation technicians to disregard mandatory federal standards in their remediation of maintenance discrepancies;

4) Relegating technicians who reported maintenance discrepancies to a “rogue’s list” and subjecting them to ongoing discriminatory treatment; and

5) Return of multiple aircraft to revenue service in an other than airworthy condition.

The union states the lawsuit was filed due to concerns of their members being pressured into practices that violate Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), put their A&P licenses at risk, and jeopardize the traveling public. "Throughout 2014 we have experienced an ugly corporate culture that seems to emphasize pushing planes back into revenue service over all other considerations. Local 591 members located in Chicago and Dallas were driven to file formal complaints with the United States Department of Labor, commonly referred to as AIR 21 complaints.



Popularly called AIR 21, is the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century. This act was put in place on April 5, 2000 to improve airline safety. This bill came about after the crash of Continental Express Flight 2574 that killed all 14 people on board an Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia, N37701. In that case the NTSB ruled that the probable cause of this accident included “The failure of Continental Express management to establish a corporate culture which encouraged and enforced adherence to approved maintenance and quality assurance procedures”.

In the lawsuit the union stated, “In order to improperly keep airplanes in revenue service, Aviation Maintenance Technicians (“AMTs”) at stations throughout the American Airlines system have been subject to ongoing pressure from American Airlines management representatives to commit maintenance fraud, disregard maintenance discrepancies, deviate from federally-mandated maintenance procedures, abstain from required lightning strike and bird strike inspections, and otherwise violate federal aviation standards,” the union alleged.

The union further stated American Airlines management representatives have  responded to its union members with  threats of discipline including termination, threats of arrest, threats of station closure and/or reduction of staff and unlawful surveillance.

In a statement American Airlines spokesman Casey Norton said, “We have the highest regard for, and a robust working relationship with, the Federal Aviation Administration. We continually and consistently work with our regulators so that American’s maintenance programs, practices, procedures, and overall compliance and safety are second to none."

“Our communication with the FAA is ongoing and frequent, and their oversight team has not alerted us to any current critical issues or concerns.  As has been, and will always be, the case, we welcome any feedback from the FAA that supports American’s unwavering attention and commitment to maintenance and technical operations excellence,” Norton said. (Lawsuit)

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