A programming glitch in the system used by American Airlines to roster flights to pilots allowed the flight crew to leave the Dallas-Fort Worth-based airline with 12,000 flights in July without any pilots actually rostered to fly them.
The bug appears to have happened on Friday when the trip swap with open time system, the roster software, mistakenly permitted pilots to drop blocks of flights known as “sequences” that had previously been assigned to them back into the system.
A large number of pilots allegedly noticed the mistake and returned 2,000 sequences to the trading system.
Approximately 12,000 flights or 37,000 flying hours were a result of the dropped sequences, according to insiders quoted by Twitter user @xJonNYC.
The union that represents AA’s pilots blamed “mismanagement” within the company as American Airlines rushed to fix the problem.
The Allied Pilots Association said it planned to use the fiasco as the pressure in contract talks to obtain incentives for pilots to work during the holidays.
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.
As we approach the Fourth of July weekend, all eyes are on the major U.S. airlines due to concerns that even the smallest inconvenience could result in a catastrophic operational breakdown.
American Airlines recently extended a two-year offer to pilots that included a pay increase of up to 16.9%.
Pilots at the airline have not yet approved the agreement, and negotiations with the Allied Pilots Association are still ongoing.