American Airlines Mechanic Charged With Sabotaging Plane Was Fired From Another Airline: Report

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.
September 7, 2019 Updated: September 7, 2019

The American Airlines mechanic who authorities said admitted to sabotaging a plane because he was upset over ongoing union negotiations was fired from another airline, according to a new report.

Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani was arrested this week after a probe revealed he sabotaged a July 17 flight that was slated to fly to the Bahamas from Miami International Airport.

Alani was a longtime American employee but for around a decade, from 1998 to 2008, he also worked for Alaska Airlines, according to court documents obtained and published by Business Insider. He was fired after making a maintenance mistake.

After he was fired, Alani filed a discrimination lawsuit against the company.

American Airlines said in an email to The Epoch Times that the company was unaware of Alani’s employment with Alaska Airlines. It also referred to a previous statement the company released as well as a letter from a top official to team members released on Sept. 6. A request for comment from Alaska Airlines wasn’t immediately returned. The airline confirmed to Business Insider that Alani was an employee, though it declined to provide any further comment.

The Iraqi-born American citizen became a naturalized citizen in 1992, performed scheduled maintenance on aircraft, made repairs, and completed required inspections, his legal team said. They said he is a practicing Muslim and “sometimes prayed using a prayer rug during his breaks.”

According to the suit, Alani made two mistakes in 2005 before making several additional mistakes in the 17 months before he was fired.

An Alaska Airlines plane in a file photograph. (Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images)

On Feb. 19, 2007, Alani made a mistake while installing an altimeter on an aircraft. He wrote in a report that he put the part in “without checking the effictiviy [sic] of the part.” The part was installed in San Francisco and found to be ineffective the next day in Portland. The company investigated what happened, gave Alani a verbal warning, and ultimately ordered him to attend training sessions about checking for effectiveness.

Just six days later, Alani was involved in a replacement of a pressure instrument called a pitot probe. An investigation later found that he failed to follow the correct procedure when replacing the probe and both he and his supervisor, who didn’t notice the mistake, were admonished.

In December 2007, Alani replaced a systems unit that included a yellow sticker, which, if it remains on, indicates to observers that the system is serviceable. Alani told a supervisor he was “not sure whether or not [he] pulled the yellow tag off.” He received an oral warning and was notified that a similar incident could result in his firing.

In July 2008, Alani helped install a battery that was unserviceable on an aircraft. He said he thought the technician who also worked on the installation verified it was serviceable and also blamed a computer glitch.

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
An Alaska Airlines plane in a file photo. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

On July 30, he was fired. The notice of the discharge noted the recent incident, the December 2007 incident, and one of the February 2007 incidents.

Alani’s legal team claimed that Alani was discriminated against because of his national origin, but a judge ruled that the team didn’t show sufficient evidence to establish a case of discrimination and that he did not prove he was performing his job satisfactorily.

In fact, the judge wrote, Alani “does not dispute that he was responsible for the error involving the altimeter nor does he dispute that he incorrectly installed a pitot probe only days later.”

Additionally, “Plaintiff provides no evidence that he was not the cause of the [system] error,” the judge wrote. “Plaintiff also is unable to provide evidence that he played no part in the error involving the battery.”

“While it may be true that portions of the blame for the four events that preceded plaintiff’s termination may be attributable to other employees, Plaintiff is the clear-cut common denominator in all of the incidents,” the judge added. “Serious mishaps clustered to Plaintiff to an unusual extent.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.