TRACY (CBS SF) — An airline mechanic from the Bay Area was placed under arrest Thursday, accused of sabotaging an airplane in Miami, according to authorities.
60-year-old Ahmed Alani of Tracy was arrested Thursday morning. The incident in question happened at Miami International Airport in July.
Alani appeared in federal court in Miami on Friday on a charge of willfully damaging or disabling a plane.
Alani was working as a mechanic for American Airlines.
According to the FBI’s criminal complaint, he tampered with the plane’s system which reports aircraft speed, pitch and other critical flight data to the pilots.
The plane was in the process of taking off when several alarms went off and they aborted takeoff.
The complaint alleges Alani confessed to investigators stating he didn’t intend to cause harm to the plane or its passengers, Rather, he said he was upset over a contract dispute and wanted to delay or cancel the flight to possibly obtain overtime work.
Court records from a lawsuit in California indicate that for some years, Alani worked both for American and Alaska Airlines until Alaska fired him in 2008 after several errors including failing to verify that repairs were working and installing the wrong battery on a plane. The Federal Aviation Administration suspended his mechanic’s certificate for 30 days, according to court documents.
Alani, who was born in Iraq and became a U.S. citizen in 1992, sued Alaska Airlines for discrimination based on national origin. A judge dismissed the lawsuit for lack of evidence.
The lawsuit and Alani’s firing by Alaska were first reported by Business Insider.
The federal investigation into the incident continues.
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