An American Airlines mechanic was arrested on Thursday on charges of willfully damaging or disabling an aircraft at Florida’s Miami International Airport (MIA), according to the Miami Herald. It has been reported that the mechanic, identified as Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, admitted to tampering with the air data module on American Flight 2834. Alani reportedly stated that stalled contract negotiations between American Airlines and its mechanics’ union—which have been ongoing since 2015 and notably contentious—were affecting him financially and his intent had been to cause the flight to be delayed or canceled so he could collect overtime pay.
A cockpit error message alerted pilots to the problem and the aircraft was returned for maintenance without leaving the ground. “At the time of the incident, the aircraft was taken out of service, maintenance was performed and after an inspection to ensure it was safe the aircraft was returned to service,” a spokesperson for American told USA Today. “American immediately notified federal law enforcement who took over the investigation with our full cooperation.”
Alani began working for American as a mechanic in 1988. He was identified by coworkers on security camera footage that showed an individual approaching the aircraft and accessing the compartment containing the navigation system. Flight 2834 was scheduled to depart MIA for Nassau, Bahamas, on July 17 with 150 people on board.