FAA Urges Airlines To Inspect Seats Made By Texas Firm

Nov. 06--The Federal Aviation Administration has recommended inspections for airlines that use seats made by the same Texas manufacturer of seats that came loose last month on several American Airlines planes.

Reports of loose seats on three American Airlines flights forced the Fort Worth carrier last month to temporarily ground and inspect almost 100 jets to ensure the seats were securely fastened to the cabin floor.

After initially blaming the problem on a faulty seat clamp, the airline later said that the problem had to do with locking pins in the seat that failed to engage, possibly because of a build-up of spilled soft drinks, coffee and juice.

American said it inspected and installed secondary locking devices on 48 of the airline's Boeing 757 planes and 49 Boeing 767 planes.

"The installation work is complete," American spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan said.

Weber Aircraft, the Gainesville, Texas, company that manufactured the seats for American Airlines, issued instructions Friday on how to inspect and replace fittings on those seats, if needed. The instructions say Weber has sold seats to 25 other airlines that could be affected by the problem, including Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Air Canada and Korean Air Lines.

A representative for Weber could not be reached for comment.

The FAA recommended that airlines using 11 Weber seat models inspect them "for loose seats and incorrectly installed fittings."

The FAA stopped short of calling for a mandatory inspection, saying the problem "has not been determined to be an unsafe condition that would warrant airworthiness directive action," a more serious inspection requirement.

A United Airlines representative said the carrier no longer uses those models of Weber seats recommended for inspection by the FAA.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

Copyright 2012 - Los Angeles Times

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