ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Whistleblower uncovers
an American Airlines plane infested with
mice that created nests in air vents and
died in oxygen masks.
infestation video click
Hidden camera video was shot by a long-time
employee at the overhaul base at Kansas City
InternationalAirport. The whistleblower did not
want to be identified but did want to expose a
hidden secret onboard a Boeing 767 passenger
The whistleblower said, "We had to take the
chairs off and that's when everybody saw mice
running around on the floor and one ran down one
of the mechanic's arm."
The plane arrived in Missouri April 30.
The whistleblower explained, "There's feces all
along this edge right here. It's throughout the
The whistleblower said workers found nests in
air vents and dead mice in emergency oxygen
masks. When mice would get hungry, they ate
insulation and chewed through wires.
"If they shorted themselves and caused a fire,
it would go through that cabin so fast, we could
have lost some lives," said the whistleblower.
Several calls were made to the Federal Aviation
Administration hotline asking for an
investigation. Using the Freedom of Information
Act, the KSDK I-Team obtained the FAA brief.
On May 5, 2006, a caller reported a mouse
infestation. The complaint went on to say that
mice chewed through two wires. The caller
alleged American Airlines was doing nothing
about eradicating the mice.
On May 10, 2006, a caller reported that mice
were building nests near the oxygen generators.
The whistleblower said, "Anywhere from 900 to
1,000 (mice) could be on this aircraft."
That's the estimate exterminators gave workers
but American Airlines disputes that number. In a
written statement the airline admits to finding
only 17 live mice.
Mel Burkhardt has been an aviation expert for
more than 30 years. He's a retired pilot and
current crash scene investigator.
He said mice on airplanes "involves a very
severe hazard to the safety of the airplane and
the people on board."
We showed Burkardt the hidden camera video.
"The potential for the catastrophic mishap is
there and if you have one mouse, you have two.
(If) you have two, you have a family," he said.
Burkardt said the plane should have been
grounded but according to maintenance logs
obtained by the KSDK I-Team that didn't happen.
On April 20th the plane was at JFK where
mechanics noted a "mouse observed in the
galley." The log goes on to indicate that
maintenance was deferred.
The decision was made to put the plane back into
service and fly passengers across the country to
Los Angeles International Airport.
That is when the whistleblower says there was
another incident on April 23.
The plane flew multiple times before it returned
to Kansas City 11 days later.
"When you fly 100 hours and (do) not take care
of the problem, you are putting the people
traveling in danger," said the whistleblower.
The Federal Aviation Administration says
American Airlines did nothing wrong because
airlines do not have to report rodent
infestations unless the rodents affect the
American Airlines would not let us see the
repairs inside the plane and would not talk to
us on camera. In a statement the company said
N320 was always safe to fly and no lives were
put at risk.
Burkhardt doubts this is the only plane with a
rodent problem. He also said exposing the issue
is good for the airlines and for passengers.
"I guarantee now that it is known, they'll
address it and within a very short period of
time I think this issue will disappear," he
According to the FAA all insulation and oxygen
masks on N320 have been replaced. The cargo bins
have been removed and replaced and the wiring
has been inspected.
Burkhardt said if you are flying on American
Airlines N320 feel good about it. He said it's
probably now the cleanest, safest airplane in
American Airlines said N320 was an anomaly and
while an occasional mouse has boarded,
infestations simply don't happen.