Keep AA planes maintained by AA

Bob Owens

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Sep 9, 2002
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Interesting documentary on the Air China crash that's shows how they maintained their own planes. With the pressure on to perform and get more and more done you have to wonder what they are skimping on over there when they work our widebodies. Here in the US mechanics are expected to be assertive, to tell his boss he will not sign off an item if he does not feel its right and most mechanics are in Unions that defend a mechanics right to do so. In addition we have the NASA program and those who are Unions have ASAP to report if we are pressured or threatened. In Taiwan the culture dictates that subordinates are much more submissive than we are and Unions are not as common (much to the dismay of people like Eoleson, FWAAA and some others who post here). Have to wonder why those mechanics covered up rather than replace the damaged skin, replacing it would put more money in their pockets but would have had the plane out of service much longer, twenty years later 200 people died because of it.

http://youtu.be/omOljI6ZecE?t=2m19s
 
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Bob, I worked briefly for a charter carrier (before AA)that ran DC10s/MD11s(and some 747s now)-that had an out fit in Taipei do there heavys. I swear when our plane came back from it's heavy visit, I couldn't hardly tell if it'd been through a HMV or not.
It was unbelievable what they left on that airframe.
 
Wouldn't surprise me in the least to hear about one of those planes falling out of the sky one day. God knows what the mechanics have had to address on those planes. Scary stuff...
 
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Bob Owens said:
Interesting documentary on the Air China crash that's shows how they maintained their own planes.
It wasn't Air China.   It was China Airlines.   China Airlines is the big airline in Taiwan, the non-communist Chinese.   Air China is a state-owned airline in the PRC.  
 


With the pressure on to perform and get more and more done you have to wonder what they are skimping on over there when they work our widebodies.
 
Who is the "they" to whom you refer?   AA isn't sending any planes to Taiwan for maintenance.   AA is sending widebodies to HAECO, an affiliate of Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong.
 


Here in the US mechanics are expected to be assertive, to tell his boss he will not sign off an item if he does not feel its right and most mechanics are in Unions that defend a mechanics right to do so. In addition we have the NASA program and those who are Unions have ASAP to report if we are pressured or threatened. In Taiwan the culture dictates that subordinates are much more submissive than we are and Unions are not as common (much to the dismay of people like Eoleson, FWAAA and some others who post here).
 
If that's true, then it's a good thing that AA wasn't sending its planes to China Airlines for maintenance in 1980 (when this shoddy tailstrike repair took place).
 


Have to wonder why those mechanics covered up rather than replace the damaged skin, replacing it would put more money in their pockets but would have had the plane out of service much longer, twenty years later 200 people died because of it.
 
The people in Taiwan might ask the same thing of AA's Tulsa mechanics for the errors in maintenance that cracked an engine pylon of a perfectly good DC-10 that ultimately caused the death of 273 people.    Dredging up Taiwanese maintenance failures from 1980 (ancient history) and then painting everyone in Asia with such a broad brush probably isn't the way to convince lawmakers that HAECO is not competent to overhaul AA's widebodies.  
 
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The same people who caused that DC 10 to crash in ORD are the same ones that are sending work overseas.....Bean Counters!!
 
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2ndGENAMT said:
The same people who caused that DC 10 to crash in ORD are the same ones that are sending work overseas.....Bean Counters!!
Sure, management approved/required the forklift method, but TWU-represented mechanics (holding A&P licenses) did the work and did not question management's poor decision.    Bob Owens claims that the weak-kneed Taiwanese are too meek to challenge management but that the big strong TWU-represented independent thinking AA mechanics are willing to challenge management.  
 
Flight 191 is some proof that if we go back far enough into history, we can find some spineless AA mechanics as well.    Everyone in Tulsa who didn't fight management on the poor engine removal technique that killed 273 people in 1979.   
 
The TWU-represented mechanics have failed miserably in bringing their compensation up to the levels that many feel mechanics deserve.   And rather than focus on that long-term failure and fixing it, Bob drags out some shoddy maintenance performed in TPE in 1980 and then argues that the HKG mechanics might be doing the same thing today because, well, they're Asians and we all know that they're meek and don't challenge the boss-man.   
 
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For all the hand-wringing over Asian MRO's operating practices, why is it that crash related deaths at record historical lows while the number of airframes being sent to Asian MRO's are at record highs?...
 
The last structural failure I can think of due to maintenance was the Alaska MD80 whose jackscrew let loose.  And that plane wasn't maintained by anyone other than union represented mechanics.  
 
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Hmm... Who signed off that jackscrew on that Alaskan MD-80?


For all the hand-wringing over Asian MRO's operating practices, why is it that crash related deaths at record historical lows while the number of airframes being sent to Asian MRO's are at record highs?...
 
The last structural failure I can think of due to maintenance was the Alaska MD80 whose jackscrew let loose.  And that plane wasn't maintained by anyone other than union represented mechanics.
 
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eolesen said:
For all the hand-wringing over Asian MRO's operating practices, why is it that crash related deaths at record historical lows while the number of airframes being sent to Asian MRO's are at record highs?...
 
The last structural failure I can think of due to maintenance was the Alaska MD80 whose jackscrew let loose.  And that plane wasn't maintained by anyone other than union represented mechanics.  
The plane was whipped by Alaskan Air management.
 
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So, you don't think it's still possible for overhauls done in the US to be pencil-whipped?...  Complacency is complacency, regardless of employment status, the continent it takes place on, or the nationality of the person doing the pencil-whipping....
 
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Flight 191 is some proof that if we go back far enough into history, we can find some spineless AA mechanics as well.    Everyone in Tulsa who didn't fight management on the poor engine removal technique that killed 273 people in 1979.
That was a low blow and you should be ashamed of yourself. The truth is that Crandal accepted responsibility in court and threw maintenance under the bus. In turn McDonnel Douglas gave him deals on the MD80s he wanted to buy. There were a few who took their own lives when AA let them take the blame so they could make a better deal on aircraft purchases. I think you owe an apology. It would have been proven in court that the blame would have been on Douglas. Incidentally, the bolts were the problem not the pylon. Douglas said they didn't need to be replaced in their manual. It turned out they should have been. I hope karma gets you for making these accusations.
 
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Wasnt there a documentary about that and didnt the ntsb find early on one of the bolts from the pylonnear where the engine fell off
 
The MD - 80 Jackscrew was signed off by an Alaska supervisor, NOT a mechanic..



So, you don't think it's still possible for overhauls done in the US to be pencil-whipped?...  Complacency is complacency, regardless of employment status, the continent it takes place on, or the nationality of the person doing the pencil-whipping....
 
FWAAA said:
It wasn't Air China.   It was China Airlines.   China Airlines is the big airline in Taiwan, the non-communist Chinese.   Air China is a state-owned airline in the PRC.  
 

 
Who is the "they" to whom you refer?   AA isn't sending any planes to Taiwan for maintenance.   AA is sending widebodies to HAECO, an affiliate of Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong.
 
Here in the US mechanics are expected to be assertive, to tell his boss he will not sign off an item if he does not feel its right and most mechanics are in Unions that defend a mechanics right to do so. In addition we have the NASA program and those who are Unions have ASAP to report if we are pressured or threatened. In Taiwan the culture dictates that subordinates are much more submissive than we are and Unions are not as common (much to the dismay of people like Eoleson, FWAAA and some others who post here).
 
If that's true, then it's a good thing that AA wasn't sending its planes to China Airlines for maintenance in 1980 (when this shoddy tailstrike repair took place).
 

 
The people in Taiwan might ask the same thing of AA's Tulsa mechanics for the errors in maintenance that cracked an engine pylon of a perfectly good DC-10 that ultimately caused the death of 273 people.    Dredging up Taiwanese maintenance failures from 1980 (ancient history) and then painting everyone in Asia with such a broad brush probably isn't the way to convince lawmakers that HAECO is not competent to overhaul AA's widebodies.  
The crash happened in 2002, guess you missed the part about them missing the nicotine trails which were still present years later. The nicotine trails are like a sign pointing to a leak. I didn't say that Asians were bad mechanics, I said they have a strict hierarchy system where mechanics would be less likely to take a stand against the directives of their profit driven boss. I could see them wanting to do the repair correctly, after all they had already removed the temporary patch, then a manager coming along and saying No, just cover it up as it is because doing it right would take weeks. In their culture they are less likely to tell him to go **** himself as we would in a union shop. I did say that people such as yourself like that kind of setup better where you feel that people should be "kept in their place", as demonstrated on a daily basis here.

By the way the mechanics had objected to doing the engine changes that way, once again the bean counters who don't actually do the work prevailed over safety, they were instructed to do it that way because it saved time.
 
Bob Owens said:
In their culture they are less likely to tell him to go #### himself as we would in a union shop. I did say that people such as yourself like that kind of setup better where you feel that people should be "kept in their place", as demonstrated on a daily basis here.
 
 
Bob, when's the last time you were in either Taiwan, Hong Kong, or the mainland?...
 
Reason I ask is that I've spent the better part of the last six months working there with two of the big three Chinese carriers.  
 
There's certainly a higher level of respect shown to superiors in Asian culture, but things have changed quite a bit in the past ten years.  The submissiveness that was legendary from the past with those who grew up under Mao has shifted with those born post-Mao.
 
That includes speaking up.  you'll note that the only guy to speak up in the Asiana cockpit was the junior guy.
 
Bob Owens said:
The crash happened in 2002, guess you missed the part about them missing the nicotine trails which were still present years later. The nicotine trails are like a sign pointing to a leak. I didn't say that Asians were bad mechanics, I said they have a strict hierarchy system where mechanics would be less likely to take a stand against the directives of their profit driven boss. I could see them wanting to do the repair correctly, after all they had already removed the temporary patch, then a manager coming along and saying No, just cover it up as it is because doing it right would take weeks. In their culture they are less likely to tell him to go #### himself as we would in a union shop. I did say that people such as yourself like that kind of setup better where you feel that people should be "kept in their place", as demonstrated on a daily basis here.

By the way the mechanics had objected to doing the engine changes that way, once again the bean counters who don't actually do the work prevailed over safety, they were instructed to do it that way because it saved time.
 
The AA mechanics did not object to changing the engines with a forklift. The problem was in how the engine change was turned over and that there was no way at that time to measure the stress the pylon was under during the removal and installation. The COBRA system is very similar to the forklift in that a mechanically powered system is used to remove and mount the engine. The difference is that the COBRA has a system that prevents preloading of the pylon. 
 
AA 191 was a tragedy and reading the investigation report will enlighten you that the forklift procedure was used throughout the industry with DAC's knowledge.
 
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