L O O S E    S E A T S

This event (like the news article below) happened to me once while flying in a 737 over Cuba in a thunderstorm enroute Montego Bay.  A Triple came loose and I was the only one on the plane who had a clue as to what to do.  It  was a full flight.  The stewardess rapped loudly on the cockpit door, and called me back to the cabin to "do something."  The problem was made worse by the seat leg spacing and balance of the seat - once out of the track, as I recall, the guy near the aisle had the moment-arm to pop the window seat passenger up in the air against the overhead.



The seats were made by Flight Equipment in the UK and never were any damn good, even when new.  After a jillion removals and installations (the airplane was a cargo convertible), they were really in sad shape. There were four seat track snap ring locks - the trouble was the seat legs were hopelessly bent and sprung, and I had a hell of a time popping all the lugs into the tracks.  You had to get all four seat fittings into the track open holes at the same time, and then slide the whole assembly forward into the locked position.  Meanwhile the 3 people in the seat, and eventually the 3 people in the row behind them had to stand (hang on?)  in the aisle while I lay there on my side grunting and groaning.  Of course, the seat belt sign was on.  I wished they had some NYC subway straps (aaahh, they're coming to that.)  And everyone was watching me - the passengers - the stewardesses - like I was supposed to know what I was doing - sure I did this everyday!  I watched the airline guys installing these seats many times and knew it took a couple of big guys grunting and swearing a lot to pop them into the tracks.  And here I was all by myself.  But I did know more or less how it was supposed to work.

Meanwhile, the airplane was bouncing all over the sky.  At the time, the only "free" corridor across the island was between two low-frequency NDB's - one on each coastline.  Just before I went aft, the pilots were having a hell of a time picking up and tracking those two beacons because of all the precipitation and P-static.  I think we were out of Miami and flying at 24,000 ft.  The ADF needles were swinging wildly, and some guy in Havana was yelling clearances at us in broken English on HF through the static crashes.

Never thought I'd ever get the damn thing in again, and after everyone was back in, my big worry was the landing in Jamaica.  I could just picture that seat popping out again and those three people flying to the front end of the cabin.  Anyway, it all ended OK.  My boss, Andy Jones, used to give me hell all the time "for working on the airplanes."  Andy was a great guy, but sometimes, I don't think he understood.

During the turnaround, I went back and checked all the seats for track security, all the while cussing out those guys in Montreal that got me into the predicament in the first place!!!




Row of seats on United Airlines flight collapses forcing emergency landing at Sea-Tac

 
A United Airlines flight bound for San Francisco from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Sunday evening was forced to make an emergency landing after a row of seats gave way during takeoff and slid into the row behind it, injuring one passenger.

 
A United Airlines flight bound for San Francisco from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Sunday evening was forced to make an emergency landing after a row of seats gave way during takeoff and slid into the row behind it, injuring one passenger.

 
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident, which authorities called unusual.

 
United flight 1139 took off as scheduled at 5:20 p.m., said Robin Urbanski, spokeswoman for the airlines. But minutes later, a bolt holding down three occupied seats in Row 3 loosened and the seats slid backward into the three passengers in Row 4. The pilot turned the plane around and returned to the airport.

 
A 61-year-old woman sitting in Row 4 suffered a knee injury and was transported to Highline Medical Center in Burien, said Perry Cooper, airport spokesman. No other injuries were reported.

 
An airline maintenance crew discovered the loose bolt and fixed it, said Allen Kinetzer, spokesman for the FAA.

 
"I've never heard of this [happening]," Kinetzer said.

 
But given the G-forces at work during takeoff, he said, just one loose bolt is enough to unanchor a row of seats.

 
The plane was returned to service and headed out for San Francisco at 8:56 p.m.

 
United is "in the process of compensating the passengers" on the flight, Urbanski said.

 

The woman who was injured was re-booked on a first-class seat to San Francisco and left this morning, she said.


Copyright 2008 Robert A. Bogash.  All Rights Reserved

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