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Author Topic: Airline Panic  (Read 736 times)

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Online Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Airline Panic
« on: April 04, 2011, 03:02:47 PM »
I was channel surfing and watched the 'panic and distress' over the recent aircraft mishaps.

Okay, I spent fifteen years working on Naval Aircraft. Five years on the S-3B (VS-33, World Famous Screwbirds! Yar!) which is a low level sea based attack aircraft and 10 years on P-3 Orion (various forms) which perform SIMILARLY to commercial aircraft in their performance.

As a result I've seen aircraft wear and tear up close, it was part of my jobs. A plane is a LOT different in how wear and tear effects it than a car or truck. There are some common elements but compared to what a car has to undergo for 'safe performance' and what a plane goes through to be 'airworthy' is a MASSIVE undertaking.

First off, multiple components and systems have 'active lifespans.' Using the P-3 as an example. Engines have X numbers of hours before they due to an inspection. The airframe has to be in for similar NDI (non-destructive inspection) and active inspections over their lifespan. For a variety of reasons.

The way the news portrays it (MSNBC, CNN, HLN, Fox News) all act like these inspections are something new or unusual. Drives me nuts how one anchor was saying folks needed to cancel their AA tickets.

That's silly, stupid and borderline fear mongering. I was gritting my teeth to hear this sort of foolishness.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Airline Panic
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2011, 03:11:56 PM »
I think that the midflight depressurization of the fuselage is a bit more than an ordinary 'wear and tear' inspection.  Cancelling tickets might be prudent (especially if you need to be somewhere on a certain date) but only because AA has more planes on the ground instead of in the air.

Edit:  Correction - it was Southwest's planes that had the depressurization problem, not American Airlines, but I think AA has pulled similar planes for precautionary inspections as well.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 03:36:26 PM by Oniya »

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Re: Airline Panic
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2011, 03:25:17 PM »
The way the news portrays it (MSNBC, CNN, HLN, Fox News) all act like these inspections are something new or unusual. Drives me nuts how one anchor was saying folks needed to cancel their AA tickets.

That's silly, stupid and borderline fear mongering. I was gritting my teeth to hear this sort of foolishness.

They don't make money unless people watch and people won't watch unless there's some sort of sensational nonsense going on. 

The fact that this is happening in the industry may be worthy of a news item but during a slow news arc they have to dress up the stories they have to make them sound dramatic.

A pilot finding a bullet hole in the fuselage of his plane last week got the news rooms whirling and now they won't be happy until they can report that planes are falling out of the air because the wings are coming off!

I watch the news, take note of the stories and then go looking for the truth somewhere other than television.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 03:26:27 PM by Beguile's Mistress »

Online Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Airline Panic
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2011, 10:35:28 PM »
I think that the midflight depressurization of the fuselage is a bit more than an ordinary 'wear and tear' inspection.  Cancelling tickets might be prudent (especially if you need to be somewhere on a certain date) but only because AA has more planes on the ground instead of in the air.

Edit:  Correction - it was Southwest's planes that had the depressurization problem, not American Airlines, but I think AA has pulled similar planes for precautionary inspections as well.

The thing is Oniya, they happen all the time (to some degree, not typically that big..though there have been bigger ones). The Aloha Airlines incident a while back shows it. And given the SHEER number of planes flying at any one time is truly staggering. I was working on 9/11 when they grounded all the planes.. and I was using a system that let me track beacons. It was MIND Boggling to see NO IFF/Air Traffic beacons in the sky. (Of course 20 minutes later, everyone not needed was ordered off base and I spent 5 days with my sea bag by the door, waiting to go somewhere if needed).

Aircraft maintenance is a very time consuming, detail oriented work. Doing ISIS work (Isochronal Maintenance) on P-3s gave me a very good up close view of how much can go wrong with a plane. I've seen documented case of a NICKEL crashing a plane. Lots of stuff can go wrong. I have downed a plane for a busted joint on a wing control surface and I've seen all manners of corrosion that didn't show up till you pulled up a panel. (Like 3 dustpans worth) and you KNEW that NONE of it was there a mere 2 months ago when you last serviced that spot.

I find it annoying that the media acts like the airlines don't take maintenance serious. They do, and it's possibly the most time intensive part of the aircraft upkeep. (with the sole exception of the paperwork that lets them track the hours)

Offline Caela

Re: Airline Panic
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2011, 01:19:34 PM »
I haven't been following this closely, but when I have seen stories on it I haven't heard anyone actually question the maintenance on the plane. In fact one story talked about the fact that it had just had a major overhaul just last year and that, for all the planes that have been flying for the last 70 years, this a wildly RARE thing to have happen.

What I have heard questioned is how old many of the planes are. Some nearly 20 years and tens of thousands of take-offs and landings. Most of what I've heard being asked it, how old is too old and at what point these older planes should be retired and replaced, instead of patched up and maintained.   

Online Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Airline Panic
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2011, 01:41:12 PM »
I haven't been following this closely, but when I have seen stories on it I haven't heard anyone actually question the maintenance on the plane. In fact one story talked about the fact that it had just had a major overhaul just last year and that, for all the planes that have been flying for the last 70 years, this a wildly RARE thing to have happen.

What I have heard questioned is how old many of the planes are. Some nearly 20 years and tens of thousands of take-offs and landings. Most of what I've heard being asked it, how old is too old and at what point these older planes should be retired and replaced, instead of patched up and maintained.

You might not want to know. I worked on P3 Orion aircraft that was build back in the early 60s. Typically the long term inspection includes X-ray of the wing spars (some of which are replace), the airframe (which might or might not be replacable) and wings.

I have seen Wings, Wing Spars and parts of the airframe itself changed out, replaced, rebuilt. Not too often but it's been done. Most of the Beoing birds still in service are typically only about 15 to 20 years old.