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American Airlines Mechanic Charged with Sabotaging Flight

Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani formerly fired for maintenance mistakes

MIAMI, FL- A mechanic for American Airlines has been arrested and accused by federal authorities of tampering with the navigation equipment on a plane shortly before it was scheduled to depart with 150 passengers onboard. The Miami-to-Nassau flight was grounded just before takeoff in July, authorities said.

The mechanic, Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani of Tracy, Calif., was upset that contract negotiations between his union and the airline had stalled, and he wanted to delay the flight with the hopes that he would make overtime pay, federal prosecutors allege.

Alani was previously fired by Alaska Airlines for making maintenance mistakes, according to court documents.

According to federal investigators, Alani, 60, inserted and glued a piece of foam into the air data module system on American Airlines Flight 2834 on July 17, preventing it from functioning normally. The system, which sits beneath the cockpit, is responsible for monitoring an aircraft’s speed, pitch and other flight data.

Crew members in the cockpit received an error message just as the Boeing 737-800 was approaching the runway and decided to abort the takeoff, authorities said.

“Alani stated that his intention was not to cause harm to the aircraft or its passengers,” said a criminal complaint affidavit filed in federal court in Miami. “Alani explained to law enforcement that he was upset at the stalled contract dispute between the union workers and American Airlines, and that this dispute had affected him financially. Alani claimed that he tampered with the target aircraft in order to cause a delay or have the flight canceled in anticipation of obtaining overtime work.”

Alani was taken into custody Thursday and is expected to appear in federal court in Miami on Friday. It is not immediately clear whether he has an attorney. He has been suspended from American Airlines, a company spokesman said.

Formal charges against Alani will be announced on Sept. 20 during his arraignment. According to federal prosecutors, he could face up to 20 years in jail.

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