On a day in late April, an American Airlines jet flew from JFK to LAX — infested with mice, according to an investigative report on KSDK St. Louis, which featured footage from a whistleblower’s hidden camera. The airline personnel at JFK knew about the mice, but let the jet fly — not just that day, but for weeks thereafter. (Click here to watch the report, click here to read the station website’s text version.)
From the station’s website:
The video was shot by a long-time employee at the overhaul base at Kansas City International Airport. The whistleblower did not want to be identified but did want to expose a hidden secret onboard a Boeing 767 passenger plane.
The whistle blower said, “We had to take the chairs off and that’s when everybody saw mice running around on the floor and one ran down one of the mechanic’s arm.”
The plane arrived in Missouri April 30.
The whistleblower explained, “There’s feces all along this edge right here. It’s throughout the whole aircraft.”
The whistle blower said workers found nests in air vents and dead mice in emergency oxygen masks. When mice would get hungry, they ate insulation and chewed through wires.
“If they shorted themselves and caused a fire, it would go through that cabin so fast, we could have lost some lives,” said the whistleblower.
By May, the whistleblower estimated there was “900 to 1000” mice on the plane. A subsequent investigation only found 17 live mice, however, according to American Airlines. Nevertheless, the station interviews a retired pilot and crash scene investigator who says the plane should have been grounded.
“The potential for the catastrophic mishap is there and if you have one mouse, you have two. (If) you have two, you have a family,” he said.
The KSDK report cites the FAA as saying American Airlines “did nothing wrong because airlines do not have to report rodent infestations unless the rodents affect the mechanics.” But, naturally, that assumes you know at any given moment how many mice are on the plane, where they are, and what they’re chewing on.
The airline’s spokespeople say it’s rare, that “infestations simply don’t happen.”
Obviously, in an period when capturing images on video and uploading them onto the Internet can be done in seconds, American Airlines is taking a pretty bold stance with that comment. It won’t be pretty if their confident declarations come back to haunt them.
(Thanks to one of the travelin’ Stodder brothers for showing me this link.)