FOR WORTH — American Airlines is limiting the number passengers on some of its jets, after determining that they lacked enough space on life rafts in case of a water landing like the one on the Hudson River in New York City earlier this month.
The airline told employees this week that it will restrict its Boeing 767-300 planes to 228 people, including flight crews and passengers.
That plane normally holds 236 people. American has 58 in its fleet, and they are primarily used for flights across the Atlantic Ocean and to Latin America.
"There was a potential discrepancy on whether, at full capacity, we have enough life rafts," said airline spokesman Tim Wagner.
The airplane carries four life rafts, which have enough space for a full load of passengers. But Federal Aviation Administration rules dictate that the airline assume that one raft might not be operational.
American recently upgraded the interiors of the planes, adding larger business class seats. The discrepancy was discovered during recent reviews of the airline's fleet.
"This issue of compliance never endangered passenger safety," airline officials told employees. "We have always had more than enough safety equipment on our 767-300 aircraft to handle passengers and crews. In addition to the life rafts, all passengers and crew on these aircraft also have access to two different flotation devices."
Wagner said the reviews were unrelated to the water landing in New York. In that case, a U.S. Airways jet landed in the Hudson River after it hit a flock of geese upon takeoff, flaming out both engines.
Photos and video of passengers standing on the plane's wings waiting for rescuers were seen around the world.
Wagner said American is working with raft manufacturers to find a larger model that can hold more passengers. Until then, he said, the number of passengers on the planes will be limited.
It is unlikely to be a major cost, he added, because those flights are rarely completely full.
"We're not seeing really high (passenger) loads," he said.