Programming Glitch Left American Airlines With 12,000 Flights in July Without Pilots

A programming error with the system used to roster flights to pilots at American Airlines allowed flight crew left the Dallas Fort Worth-based carrier with 12,000 flights in July without any pilots rostered to actually fly them.

The glitch appears to have occurred on Friday when the roster software, which is called the trip trade with open time systemerroneously allowed pilots to drop blocks of flights known as ‘sequences’ which had already been assigned to them back into the system.

The error was apparently picked up by hundreds of pilots who collectively dropped 2,000 sequences back into the trading system. The dropped sequences accounted for around 12,000 flights or 37,000 flying hours, according to insiders quoted by Twitter source @xJonNYC.

As American Airlines scrambled to rectify the issue, the union that represents AA’s pilots pointed the finger of blame at “mismanagement” within the airline. The Allied Pilots Association suggested it would use the fiasco as a bargaining trip in contract negotiations to win incentives for pilots to work over holiday periods.

In a statement, a spokesperson for American confirmed the glitch, saying: “Our pilot trip trading system experienced a technical issue. As a result of this technical issue, certain trip trading transactions were able to be processed when it shouldn’t have been permitted.”

“We have restored the vast majority of the affected trips and do not anticipate any operational impact because of this issue,” the statement continued.

All eyes are on the major US airlines heading into the Independence Day weekend over fears that the slightest disruption could unravel into a major operational meltdown.

American Airlines recently offered pilots a pay rise of up to 16.9 percent as part of a two-year offer. Negotiations with the Allied Pilots Association continue and the deal has not yet been accepted by pilots at the carrier.

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Mateusz Maszczynski

Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt’s industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.