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Profile: American Airlines

 
  

Positions that American Airlines has held:



 

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American Airlines actively participated in the following events:

 
  

January-August 2001: Airlines Receive FAA Warnings, But Later Claim They Were Given No Real Hints of Possible Terrorist Attacks      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FAA gives 15 warnings to domestic airlines between January and August 2001, but about one general security warning a month had been common for a long time. [CNN, 5/17/02] Even a government official later calls the content of these 15 warnings “standard fare.” [Miami Herald, 5/17/02] As one newspaper later reports, “there were so many [warnings] that airline officials grew numb to them.” [St. Petersburg Times, 9/23/02] In May 2002, in response to recent revelations about what was known before 9/11, the major airlines will hold a press conference claiming they were never warned of a specific hijacking threat, and were not told to tighten security. For instance, an American Airlines spokesman states that the airline “received no specific information from the US government advising the carrier of a potential terrorist hijacking in the United States in the months prior to September 11, 2001. American receives FAA security information bulletins periodically, but the bulletins were extremely general in nature and did not identify a specific threat or recommend any specific security enhancements.” [Miami Herald, 5/17/02] Bush administration officials later state that the terror information they are receiving is so vague that tighter security does not seem required. [Associated Press, 5/18/02] However, it seems that even these general warnings are never passed on to airline employees. Rosemary Dillard, a supervisor for American Airlines, states, “My job was supervision over all the flight attendants who flew out of National, Baltimore, or Dulles. In the summer of 2001, we had absolutely no warnings about any threats of hijackings or terrorism, from the airline or from the FAA.” [New York Observer, 6/17/04] The content of these seemingly harmless warnings remain classified after 9/11. They are said to be exempted from public disclosure by a federal statute that covers “information that would be detrimental to the security of transportation if disclosed.” [New York Observer, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, American Airlines, Federal Aviation Administration, Rosemary Dillard
          

September 11, 2001: The 9/11 Attack: 3,000 Die in New York City and Washington, D.C.      Complete 911 Timeline

      
The September 11, 2001 attacks. From left to right: The World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Flight 93 crash.
The 9/11 attack: Four planes are hijacked, two crash into the WTC, one into the Pentagon, and one crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. Nearly 3,000 people are killed.
People and organizations involved: United Airlines, al-Qaeda, American Airlines, Pentagon, World Trade Center
          

September 11, 2001: Israeli Special-Ops Passenger Shot or Stabbed by Hijackers?      Complete 911 Timeline

       An FAA memo written on the evening of 9/11, and later leaked, suggests that a man on Flight 11 was shot and killed by a gun before the plane crashed into the WTC. The “Executive Summary,” based on information relayed by a flight attendant to the American Airlines Operation Center, stated “that a passenger located in seat 10B [Satam Al Suqami] shot and killed a passenger in seat 9B [Daniel Lewin] at 9:20 am.” (Note that since Flight 11 crashed at 8:46, the time must be a typo, probably meaning 8:20). A report in Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz on September 17 identifies Lewin as a former member of the Israel Defense Force Sayeret Matkal, Israel's most successful special-operations unit. [UPI, 3/6/02] Sayeret Matkal is a deep-penetration unit that has been involved in assassinations, the theft of foreign signals-intelligence materials, and the theft and destruction of foreign nuclear weaponry. Sayeret Matkal is best known for the 1976 rescue of 106 passengers at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. [New Yorker, 10/29/01] Lewin founded Akamai, a successful computer company, and his connections to Sayeret Matkal remained hidden until the gun story became known. [Guardian, 9/15/01] FAA and American Airline officials later deny the gun story and suggest that Lewin was probably stabbed to death instead. [Washington Post, 3/2/02 (B); UPI, 3/6/02] Officials assert that the leaked document was a “first draft,” and subsequently corrected, but declines to release the final draft, calling it “protected information.” However, an FAA official present when the memo was drafted will dispute the FAA's claim, asserting that “[t]he document was reviewed for accuracy by a number of people in the room, including myself and a couple of managers of the operations center.” [World Net Daily, 3/7/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Daniel Lewin, American Airlines, Satam Al Suqami, Sayeret Matkal
          

8:21 a.m.: Sweeney's Call Reaches American Headquarters, but Managers Cover Up the News      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Amy (Madeline) Sweeney.
American Airlines Flight service manager Michael Woodward is listening to Flight 11 attendant Amy Sweeney on the telephone, and he wants to pass on the information he is hearing from her. Since there is no tape recorder, he calls Nancy Wyatt, the supervisor of pursers at Logan Airport. Holding telephones in both hands, he repeats to Wyatt everything that Sweeney is saying to him. Wyatt in turn simultaneously transmits his account to the airline's Fort Worth, Texas, headquarters. The conversation between Wyatt and managers at headquarters is recorded. All vital details from Sweeney's call reach American Airlines' top management almost instantly. However, according to victims' relatives who later hear this recording, the two managers at headquarters immediately begin discussing a cover-up of the hijacking details. They say, “don't spread this around. Keep it close,” “Keep it quiet,” and “Let's keep this among ourselves. What else can we find out from our own sources about what's going on?” One former American Airlines employee who has also heard this recording recalls, “In Fort Worth, two managers in SOC [Systems Operations Control] were sitting beside each other and hearing it. They were both saying, ‘Do not pass this along. Let's keep it right here. Keep it among the five of us.’ ” Apparently, this decision prevents early and clear evidence of a hijacking from being shared during the crisis. Gerard Arpey, American Airlines' executive vice president for operations, soon hears details of the hijacking from flight attendant Betty Ong's phone call (see (8:21 a.m.)) at 8:30 a.m. (see 8:30 a.m.), but apparently, he does not learn of Sweeney's call until much later. Victims' relatives will later question whether lives could have been saved if only this information had been quickly shared with other airplanes. [New York Observer, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: American Airlines, Nancy Wyatt, Michael Woodward, Madeline ("Amy") Sweeney
          

(8:23 a.m.): Flight 11 Attendant Ong's Hijacking Account Forwarded to American Airlines Headquarters      Complete 911 Timeline

       Nydia Gonzalez, an American Airlines supervisor with expertise on security matters, is patched in to a call with flight attendant Betty Ong on Flight 11. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04] At 8:27 a.m., Gonzalez calls Craig Marquis, a manager at American Airlines' headquarters. Gonzalez holds the phone to Ong to one ear, and the phone to Marquis to the other. [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01; New York Observer, 2/11/04] Gonzalez talks to Marquis continuously until Flight 11 crashes. The first four minutes of this call are later played before the 9/11 Commission. Marquis quickly says, “I'm assuming they've declared an emergency. Let me get ATC [air traffic control] on here. Stand by. ... Okay, We're contacting the flight crew now and We're ... We're also contacting ATC.” In the four recorded minutes, Gonzalez relays that Ong is saying the hijackers from seats 2A and 2B are in the cockpit with the pilots. There are no doctors on board. All the first class passengers have been moved to the coach section. The airplane is flying very erratically. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04]
People and organizations involved: Betty Ong, Nydia Gonzalez, American Airlines, Craig Marquis
          

(Between 8:27-8:30 a.m.): Ong Gives Flight 11 Details; Seating Accounts Differ      Complete 911 Timeline

       Craig Marquis, listening to information coming from flight attendant Betty Ong on Flight 11, calls American Airlines' system operations control center in Fort Worth. He says, “She said two flight attendants had been stabbed, one was on oxygen. A passenger had his throat slashed and looked dead and they had gotten into the cockpit.” He relays that Ong said the four hijackers had come from first-class seats: 2A, 2B, 9A, and 9B. She said the wounded passenger was in seat 10B. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] Note that this conflicts with the seats flight attendant Amy Sweeney gives for the hijackers at about the same time (see (Before 8:26 a.m.)): 9D, 9G, and 10B. By 8:27 a.m., this information is passed to Gerard Arpey, the effective head of American Airlines that morning. By 9:59 a.m., counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke and other top officials receive the information. [Clarke, 2004, pp 13-14]
People and organizations involved: Betty Ong, Craig Marquis, Gerard Arpey, Richard A. Clarke, American Airlines
          

8:30 a.m.: American Airlines Vice President Informed of Hijacking      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Gerard Arpey.
Gerard Arpey (American Airlines' executive vice president for operations) learns from manager Joe Burdepelly that Flight 11 may have been hijacked. Burdepelly tells Arpey that he has been told that another manager, Craig Marquis, is in contact with flight attendant Betty Ong on the hijacked flight. Arpey learns that Ong has said two other attendants have been stabbed, that two or three passengers are in the cockpit, and more. Arpey is the effective head of American Airlines during the early phase of the crisis, because the company's president is still at home and out of contact. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04] At some point before Flight 11 crashes, Arpey is told about the “We have some planes” comment made by the hijackers. [USA Today, 8/13/02]
People and organizations involved: Betty Ong, Gerard Arpey, Craig Marquis, Joe Burdepelly, American Airlines
          

(Before 8:45 a.m.): American Airlines Tells Crisis Center, Leaders of Hijacking, but Not Other Pilots      Complete 911 Timeline

       At American Airlines' headquarters in Fort Worth, their crisis Command Center used in emergencies, is activated. A page is sent to American's top executives and operations personnel: “Confirmed hijacking Flight 11.” However, pilots on other American flights apparently are not notified. Top managers gather at the Command Center and watch the radar blip of Flight 11 until it disappears over New York City. [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01]
People and organizations involved: American Airlines
          

(8:56 a.m.): Flight 77 Transponder Signal Disappears; NORAD Not Informed      Complete 911 Timeline

       Flight 77's transponder signal is turned off at this time. [Guardian, 10/17/01; Boston Globe, 11/23/01; Newsday, 9/23/01] According to the 9/11 Commission, the Indianapolis flight controller in charge of the flight has watched it go off course and head southwest before the signal disappears. He looks for primary radar signals along its projected flight path as well as in the airspace where it has started to turn. He cannot find the plane. He tries contacting the plane but gets no answer. “ ‘American 77, Indy,’ the controller said, over and over. ‘American 77, Indy, radio check. How do you read?’ By 8:56 a.m., it was evident that Flight 77 was lost.” [New York Times, 10/16/01] The controller has not been told about any other hijacked planes. (Other centers have been notified about the Flight 11 hijacking more than 20 minutes earlier at 8:25 a.m. [Guardian, 10/17/01] ) He assumes Flight 77 has experienced electrical or mechanical failure. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Apparently, American Airlines headquarters and the Pentagon's NMCC are notified that Flight 77 is off course with its radio and transponder not working, but NORAD is not notified at this time. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04]
People and organizations involved: American Airlines, National Military Command Center, Indianapolis flight control, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

(Before 9:00 a.m.): American Airlines Learns of Flight 77 Problems; Cancels All Flight Take Offs in the Northeast; NORAD Not Notified      Complete 911 Timeline

       American Airlines headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, learns that Flight 77 is not responding to radio calls, is not emitting a transponder signal, and flight control has lost its location since 8:56 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04] According to the Wall Street Journal, a call from the FAA roughly says that Flight 77 has “turned off its transponder and turned around. Controllers [have] lost radio communications with the plane. Without hearing from anyone on the plane, American [doesn't] know its location.” American Airlines executive Gerard Arpey gives an order to stop all American flight take-offs in the Northeast. By 8:59 a.m., American Airlines begins attempts to contact the flight using ACARS (a digital communications system used primarily for aircraft-to-airline messages). Around this time, Within minutes, American gets word that United also has lost contact with a missing airliner (presumably Flight 175). When reports of the second WTC come through after 9:03 a.m., one manager recalls mistakenly shouting, “How did 77 get to New York and we didn't know it?” [9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/24/04, p. 454; Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01]
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, American Airlines, Gerard Arpey, Federal Aviation Administration
          

(Between 9:01-9:03 a.m.): Flight Controllers, American Headquarters Watch Flight 175 Head into New York City      Complete 911 Timeline

       Flight 175 is an unmarked blip to flight controllers in New York City. One controller stands up in horror. “No, he's not going to land. He's going in!” Another controller shouts, “Oh, my God! He's headed for the city. ... Oh, my God! He's headed for Manhattan!” [Washington Post, 9/21/01] Managers at American Airlines' headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, also closely watch Flight 175 head into New York City on radar. [USA Today, 8/12/02] Yet, according to the 9/11 Commission, no one has notified NORAD about the flight.
People and organizations involved: American Airlines, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

9:05 am (and After): Flight 77 Reappears on Radar, but Flight Controllers Do Not Notice      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to the 9/11 Commission, Flight 77's radar blip, missing for the last eight minutes, reappears on Indianapolis flight control's primary radar scope. It is east of its last known position. It remains in air space managed by Indianapolis until 9:10 a.m., and then passes into Washington air space. Two managers and one flight controller continue to look west and southwest for the flight, but don't look east. Managers don't instruct other Indianapolis controllers to join the search for the flight. Neither they nor FAA headquarters issues an “all points bulletin” to surrounding centers to search for Flight 77. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Newsday claims that rumors circulate the plane might have exploded in midair. [Newsday, 9/23/01] However, the 9/11 Commission's conclusion that Indianapolis flight controllers did not look east is contradicted by an account indicating that American Airlines headquarters was told that Flight 77 had turned around.
People and organizations involved: American Airlines, Indianapolis flight control, Federal Aviation Administration
          

9:09 a.m.: Indianapolis Flight Control Tells Local FAA Flight 77 Is Missing, but FAA Headquarters and NORAD Are Not Yet Told      Complete 911 Timeline

       Indianapolis flight control reports the loss of contact with Flight 77 to the FAA regional center. They describe it as a possible crash. The center waits 16 minutes before passing the information to FAA headquarters at 9:25 a.m. (see 9:25 a.m.) [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; Washington Post, 11/3/01] However, American Airlines headquarters has been notified of the same information before 9:00 a.m. (see (Before 9:00 a.m.)).
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Indianapolis flight control, American Airlines
          

9:15 a.m.: American Airlines Orders No New Take Offs in US; United Airlines Follows Suit      Complete 911 Timeline

       American Airlines orders no new take-offs in the US United Airlines follows suit five minutes later. [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01]
People and organizations involved: United Airlines, American Airlines
          

(9:20 a.m.): FAA Command Center Notifies Field Facilities That Flight 77 Is Lost; Indianapolis Flight Control Reportedly Finally Learns of National Crisis      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to the 9/11 Commission, Indianapolis flight control learns that there are other hijacked aircraft by this time (presumably at least Flights 11 and 175). Millions of people have known about the crashes since CNN and all other media began broadcasting images from New York at 8:48 a.m., but Indianapolis is reportedly unaware until this time. The Indianapolis flight controllers begin to doubt their assumption that Flight 77 has crashed and consider that it might be hijacked. After a discussion between the Indianapolis manager and the FAA Command Center, the Command Center notifies some other FAA facilities that Flight 77 is lost. By 9:21 a.m., the Command Center, some FAA field facilities, and American Airlines join the search for Flight 77. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: American Airlines, Indianapolis flight control, Federal Aviation Administration
          

(9:21-9:26 a.m.): United Airlines Dispatchers Advise Pilots to Secure Cockpit Doors; Flight 93 Gets the Message      Complete 911 Timeline

       At 9:21 a.m., United Airlines dispatchers are told to advise their flights to secure cockpit doors. Flight dispatcher Ed Ballinger has apparently already started doing this on his own a couple of minutes earlier. Sending electronic messages one by one, at 9:24 he sends a message to Flight 93 reading: “Beware of cockpit intrusion. Two aircraft in New York hit Trade Center buildings.” Ballinger claims that he was specifically instructed by superiors not to tell pilots why they needed to land (apparently he added the detail about the WTC against orders). [New York Observer, 6/17/04] Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl acknowledges the message two minutes later, replying, “Ed, confirm latest message please Jason.” This is the last vocal contact from the cockpit of Flight 93. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04] Note that this formal warning is in addition to an informal one sent by Ballinger that reached Flight 93 around 9:00 a.m. In contrast to United Airlines, the 9/11 Commission finds no evidence that American Airlines sends such warnings to their pilots at any time during the hijackings.
People and organizations involved: Ed Ballinger, 9/11 Commission, American Airlines, United Airlines, Jason Dahl
          

9:25 a.m.: FAA Command Center Finally Tells FAA Headquarters About Flight 77      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to the 9/11 Commission, the FAA Command Center advises FAA headquarters that American 77 is lost in Indianapolis flight control's airspace, that Indianapolis has no primary radar track, and is looking for the aircraft. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] The Command Center had learned this 16 minutes earlier at 9:09 a.m. (see 9:09 a.m.). American Airlines headquarters was notified of the same information before 9:00 a.m. (see (Before 9:00 a.m.)).
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, American Airlines
          

9:30 a.m.: United Flights Are Instructed to Land Immediately; American Follows Suit      Complete 911 Timeline

       United Airlines begins landing all of its flights inside the US (Note: All planes nationwide were already ordered down at 9:26 a.m. (see (9:26 a.m.)) and told to land in a reasonable amount of time. Now they're told to land immediately.) American Airlines begins landing all of their flights five minutes later. [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01]
People and organizations involved: American Airlines, United Airlines
          

9:34 a.m.: FAA Mentions in Passing to NORAD That Flight 77 Is Missing      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to the 9/11 Commission, NEADS contacts Washington flight control to ask about Flight 11. A manager there happens to mention, “We're looking—we also lost American 77.” The commission claims, “No one at FAA Command Center or headquarters ever asked for military assistance with American 77.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Yet, 38 minutes earlier, flight controllers determined Flight 77 was off course, out of radio contact, and had no transponder signal (see (8:56 a.m.)). They'd warned American Airlines headquarters within minutes. By some accounts, this is the first time NORAD is told about Flight 77, but other accounts have them warned around 9:25 a.m.
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Northeast Air Defense Sector, North American Aerospace Defense Command, American Airlines
          

September 29, 2001: $2.5 Million in Airline Options Go Unclaimed      Complete 911 Timeline

       $2.5 million in put options on American Airlines and United Airlines are reported unclaimed. This is likely the result of the suspension in trading on the New York Stock Exchange after the attacks which gave the SEC time to be waiting if the owners showed up to redeem their put options placed the week before the 9/11 attacks. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/29/01]
People and organizations involved: United Airlines, American Airlines, New York Stock Exchange
          

1:00 pm August 27, 2005: Last American Airline Flight Leaves      Hurricane Katrina

       All American Airlines, flights scheduled after 1:00 pm today have been cancelled. However, American used larger planes for its last two flights, transporting 300 extra passengers out of the area.
People and organizations involved: American Airlines
          

'Passive' participant in the following events:

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