American taking steps to secure seats on aircraft floors

Oct 4 (Reuters) - American Airlines, moving to allay concerns over a potential safety issue, said on Thursday that it was taking new steps to secure seats on some of its Boeing

757 planes.

The AMR Corp unit said it and the Federal Aviation Administration were planning to enhance locking mechanism features on seats in 48 planes. The move follows three separate incidents in recent days in which seats on American flights came unbolted from the floor, prompting an investigation by the FAA and jet inspections.

"American has instructed mechanics to pay particular attention to the seat lock plunger mechanism that secures the seat to the aircraft floor," the carrier said in a statement. "Mechanics have begun taking steps necessary to ensure that no seat can become dislodged from its track."

American said select flights might be delayed or canceled as it looks to complete work on the 48 affected planes that will get the additional locking features. The modifications are expected to be completed by Oct. 6, it added.

The third-largest U.S. airline has cancelled hundreds of flights over the past few weeks, citing increased pilot maintenance reports and sick leave usage. The company and the Allied Pilots Association union resumed contract talks this week in hopes of resolving a long-running labor dispute. The pilots union has denied calling any work action at the carrier.

Separately on Thursday, the union that represents mechanics and other ground workers at American said more than 2,800 of its members have accepted early retirement offers and buyouts, reducing the number of expected layoffs at the carrier.

American last month said it notified more than 11,000 workers they could lose their jobs as part of its bankruptcy reorganization, but added at the time that it expected fewer than 4,400 people to actually be laid off in November and December. The layoff notices were required under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

In a statement, the Transport Workers Union said it now expects 1,800 of its members to be laid off during the bankruptcy process. AMR had planned 8,650 job cuts in March of this year, but thousands of jobs were saved during union negotiations, the TWU added.

American did not immediately comment on the TWU statement.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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