SEATTLE (CN) – A passenger claims she was “terrified” during an emergency landing that was forced because the American Airlines pilot ignored “multiple warnings” about critical gear, and tried to fly from Seattle to New York on battery power, which lasts for only 30 minutes.
In her federal complaint, Jewel Thomas claims that the captain and first officer received “multiple warnings” shortly after takeoff that the plane’s main battery charger was powerless and there was a problem with the air ground system, landing gear monitor and engines.
“Despite these electrical problems and multiple system warnings, the captain of the subject flight elected to continue the flight on battery power. Despite the fact that the QRH [quick reference handbook] stated that battery power would provide power for 30 minutes, the Captain decided to try to fly from Sea-Tac to JFK,” the complaint states.
Thomas claims that despite the multiple problems, the cockpit voice recorder shows that the pilots joked about having a “dead battery,” ate breakfast and refused to land the plane. The crew eventually had to make an emergency landing in Chicago after losing power, according to the complaint.
“According to the cockpit voice recorder, the Captain stated: ‘Oh, man we’re still working with this problem that it’s kind of stabilized but uh it’s weirding us out. We need a beer. (Sound of laughter) Heineken,'” according to the complaint.
Eighteen minutes later, the first officer said, “I’m ashamed of myself for not realizing that we’re gonna lose standby buses in thirty minutes. By the way, when you are talking to um maintenance then again I’m glad maybe we didn’t tell them that, otherwise they would have told us to go land someplace,” according to the complaint.
All power went out in the cabin before the crew decided to land, three hours into the flight. Thomas says she was “terrified” and called her children from her cell phone and “left tearful voicemails for them, saying ‘I love you.'”
The plane skidded off the runway while landing but no passengers were injured.
Thomas says American failed to properly maintain the plane and the crew didn’t have proper training. She seeks punitive damages. She is represented by Alisa Brodkowitz.