U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Travel
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
 
Old 03-06-2008, 10:58 AM
 
29,204 posts, read 51,690,545 times
Reputation: 21632

Advertisements

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- -- Discount air carrier Southwest Airlines flew thousands of passengers on aircraft federal inspectors said were "unsafe" as recently as last March, according to detailed congressional documents obtained by CNN.

Records: Southwest Airlines flew 'unsafe' planes - CNN.com
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 03-06-2008, 12:44 PM
 
9,056 posts, read 10,936,295 times
Reputation: 11761
You get what you pay for!!!
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-06-2008, 07:25 PM
 
812 posts, read 3,805,643 times
Reputation: 388
Let's see the other side of this story and how things pan out. I'm inclined to give Southwest the benefit of the doubt as they have a history of crossing their T's and dotting their I's, and are statistically one of the safest carriers flying, but I'm interested to see the findings.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-07-2008, 09:45 AM
 
Location: The Raider Nation._ Our band kicks brass
1,854 posts, read 9,236,707 times
Reputation: 2328
Southwest does not get a free pass on this one, but I'm not going to crucify them either. There is a major difference between unsafe, and unairworthy. I could leave off a required placard that shows where a fire extinguisher is. The airplane would be illegal to fly and considered unairworthy, but it wouldn't be unsafe.

Much of what they did was paperwork errors. None of it was because they were trying to save money. Southwest doesn't operate that way. I believe most of the problem was due to scheduling. Southwest farms out most, if not all of their heavy maintenance to third party vendors. The vendors have other customers under contract. Everybody has to wait their turn. A while ago we had an airplane with some kind of issue that couldn't be fixed until a heavy maintenance visit. We obtained an E.A. (Engineering Authorization) to continue flying. E.A's are approved by our engineering department, Boeing, and the FAA. Over a period of time there were a few more airplanes with the same issue. We referenced the original E.A. and deferred the repair until heavy maintenance. A fix for one is good for them all, right. WRONG!! It turns out that that particular E.A. was a one time deal written for that one airplane. We were in violation of the FAR's. All of those planes flew illegally and unairworthy, but they were not unsafe by any stretch of the imagination. The company did a self disclosure, and we paid heavy fines.

I can see Southwest getting an extension for one airplane because of scheduling, and then mistakenly apply that extension to several airplanes. That would cause them to be in violation.

Let's talk about the AD's (airworthiness directive) that were being violated. The first one was a lap joint inspection. Boeing builds their airplanes with the upper and lower skins overlapping each other by about six inches. This causes the skin to be twice as thick, and twice as stiff in that area. It doesn't flex the same as the thinner areas and is prone to cracking over a very long period of time. The most famous plane is the Aloha convertible. It is the incident driving this AD. There were other factors such as salt water, poor maintenance by Aloha airlines, and not seeing a need to inspect those joints. The AD is a continuous inspection that takes place after every so many thousands of flight cycles. Some times we find cracks 1/4" long. The longest we ever found was 18 inches. 99% of the time there is nothing at all.

Though this was a serious mistake on the part of Southwest, I wouldn't get all worked up about it. Every airplane in the world has a few cracks on it somewhere. Most will never amount to anything, but they all get fixed as if they were the most important thing out there.

The second AD that they violated was the rudder PCU modification (Power Control Unit) It is being driven by USAir flight 427 and a United flight in Denver. Basically while inputting full left rudder, there is a pressure inbalance that causes the rudder to deflect in the wrong direction. The pilots didn't now there was a rudder reversal, and continued stepping on the rudder pedal. It caused them to flip over and smash into the ground. Out of all of the millions of 737 flights, it has happened only twice. The AD was a multi parter. There was a several year window to replace the rudder control units. There was also an on going inspection that had to be accomplished until the unit was replaced. Pilots were also trained to recognize a rudder reversal and take corrective action. So this became not as dangerous as it once was. At every inspection the paperwork was left as an open item until the PCU was replaced. It's possible that an inspector performed an inspection and then mistakenly closed the item. The people in records would then file it away not knowing that it really wasn't complete. I have a major problem with third party maintenance, but until we can get the Government to change the rules, there is nothing we can do about it. You always get the best quality when you do the work yourself.

On a personal note. I was involved with sorting out the wreckage from 427. The total devastation of the plane, parts that were unrecognizable, human remains, and the stench of death that still lingers in that hangar today, will remain with me for the rest of my life. It was a horrible experience. That is why I say that no LICENSED mechanic would ever knowingly violate an AD on purpose. We are only human though, mistakes can be made.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-07-2008, 03:09 PM
 
25,712 posts, read 25,733,492 times
Reputation: 44405
Quote:
Originally Posted by tande1n5 View Post
Let's see the other side of this story and how things pan out. I'm inclined to give Southwest the benefit of the doubt as they have a history of crossing their T's and dotting their I's, and are statistically one of the safest carriers flying, but I'm interested to see the findings.

I have to agree, but in a small way, any airline can have equipment malfunction, even the newer ones. Im still a SW fan.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-08-2008, 08:50 PM
 
6,351 posts, read 20,394,642 times
Reputation: 9979
South Range Family, thanks for a great post! The media doesn't always do a good job explaining the technical details of aviation to the general public (besides, they gotta keep us afraid...) Especially liked the explanation of the difference between "unairworthy" and "unsafe"; sure wish the media would get that...
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Travel

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2021, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Contact Us - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 - Top