American Airlines cancels 94 flights amid fears over loose seats

 

The US carrier American Airlines has cancelled 94 flights amid fears over passenger seats coming loose.

The company, which has begun pulling Boeing 757s out of service, has said they know why the seats are coming loose and has devised a fix for the problem.

It is expected that all of the planes will be back in service by Saturday.

Despite the company identifying the problem delays and inconvenience for thousands of passengers is still likely.

American Airlines said the work to repair the seats caused it to cancel 50 flights yesterday and 44 today.

Each 757 that American operates in the US has 188 seats. The faulty seats had recently been refurbished the company said.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is now continuing to investigate the issue.

The incident is the latest to blight the owner of American Airlines - AMR Corp, which is operating under bankruptcy protection, and is facing a takeover bid from US Airways Group Inc.

The company also saw a surge in flight cancellations in September which they blamed on a slowdown by pilots unhappy at the cancelling of their labour contract.

American originally said the problem was due to a clamp that holds rows of seats to tracks on the aircraft floor. But officials offered a new explanation Thursday, saying that a combination of wear, poor design and even soda spilled into the tracks caused pins to pop out of the grooves.

The airline has used the same seats for 20 years without incident until now, said David L. Campbell, American's vice president of safety.

“The fundamental design of this seat is not as robust as some of the latest designs,” Campbell said in an interview.

Mr Campbell said the new fix consists of installing an additional locking mechanism that was designed by American engineers and approved by the Federal Aviation Authority.

The FAA issued a statement saying that it approved of American's decision to conduct more inspections.

The agency said its safety investigation was continuing and it would “take additional action as appropriate.” The agency is likely to examine whether American adequately inspected the seats after the cabin-refurbishment jobs.

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