American is in the process of remodeling the interiors of its Boeing 737-800 planes to add more seats as well as bigger overhead bins and electrical outlets at each seat, a plan known as "Project Oasis." The airline is one of several carriers adding more seats to planes in order to increase revenue for each flight.
American flies 304 Boeing 737-800s and said it found "an issue with the quality of work conducted on overhead bins on two of these Boeing 737-800 aircraft," which it said was installed by a third-party vendor that is licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration. Under federal rules, the doors to overhead bins must be closed before the plane can depart.
Other problems such as loose bolts were detected after the overhead bin issue arose, said Gary Schaible, president of Transport Workers Union Local 591, which represents about 4,800 American Airlines mechanics.
"It's the definition of shoddy work," said Schaible, who added that the new work was done by Everett, Washington-based Aviation Technical Services. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The work on two aircraft "was not up to our standards," American said in a statement. The airline said it took 12 more of these jets out of service "out of an abundance of caution" to evaluate the recently completed work. So far, American has remodeled close to 70 of the 304 Boeing 737-800s it has in operation, spokesman Ross Feinstein said.
"Though the issue did not impact the safety of flight of these aircraft, we are working with our vendor and the FAA to immediately address this issue," American said.
The FAA is in contact with American and monitoring the issue, said spokesman Gregory Martin.