An American Airlines jet ferried thousands of passengers in December and January with its emergency exits blocked by misaligned passenger seats, sources told The Post.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the misplaced seats – which blocked the exits over the wings — on the Boeing 757, which an aviation expert said would have endangered passengers’ lives in an emergency.
“It’s extraordinarily difficult to evacuate an airplane when everything goes perfectly, because of the sheer numbers and small space and minimum exits that exist,” said aviation lawyer Brian Alexander of the Manhattan firm Kreindler and Kreindler.
The misaligned seats were discovered at Kennedy Airport on Saturday by an American Airlines crew during a routine maintenance check.
The seats were about 2 inches out of line — enough, said sources, to prevent the emergency hatches from properly opening.
American said the seats were only “slightly out of configuration,” and denied that the exits were blocked.
After all-day repairs by American workers at Kennedy, the plane was put back in service on Sunday morning.
Sources said the seats were aligned improperly when the plane was sent to a TIMCO Aviation Services Inc. facility in North Carolina early in December for interior cabin work.
TIMCO declined comment.
TIMCO was also blamed last fall for allegedly failing to properly bolt down the seats on several American 757s.
In that case, two of the planes were forced into unscheduled landings at Kennedy Airport because their seats were sliding around the cabin. Those incidents also resulted in an FAA investigation.
Source: NY Post