American Airlines temporarily grounds 8 planes after loose seats

NEW YORK Tue Oct 2, 2012 6:06am EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - American Airlines said on Monday it has temporarily grounded eight planes to evaluate them after seats became loose on two flights in the last few days -- incidents which have also prompted safety regulators to look into the matter.

The airline, whose parent AMR Corp filed for bankruptcy protection in November, is reinspecting eight Boeing Co 757 planes after a row of seats came loose during a Saturday flight and the same thing happened again on a different plane on Monday.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is also looking into the incidents, according to a FAA statement forwarded by American Airlines. FAA representatives were not available for comment after hours.

Company spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan said in an emailed statement that an initial internal investigation "indicated that there could be a possible issue with a certain model of seats and how they fit into the tracking used to secure the seats".

The seats were installed by American Airlines maintenance and maintenance contractors and the issue does not seem to be tied to any one maintenance facility or group, the company said.

A Wall Street Journal story on Monday said the FAA is looking into why a dozen or more rows of seats on one of the planes were not properly secured, adding that the planes being evaluated had recently undergone maintenance.

The airline, which began implementing cost cuts for its pilots last month, has had to cancel hundreds of flights recently due to an increase in pilot-initiated maintenance requests and sick leave usage.

American Airlines said on September 27 that it warned its pilots union it would take legal action if the union fails to ensure the airline operates smoothly.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)