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AA MD 80s - Reliability Problems  
User currently offlineUsafret From United States of America, joined Mar 2009, 56 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 3 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 7220 times:

I am Exec Plat on AA and fly weekly. In a recent survey called into me by AA I voiced concern about the MD 80/83 jets. The rep stated they have a five year plan to replace with 737s which is good news. On the 27 March 09 AA 1276, SFO to STL we had a slight delay due to mechanical on an MD 80 and came close to a cancel. The agent at the X Class check in said this is becoming more common as AA does not have a full bench stock and has to borrow parts or have them shipped in. She was very nice and I felt bad that she probably bears the brunt of unhappy travelers. She booked me on another flight just in case. Oh, I had the outbound STL-LAX-SFO with a confirmed upgrade on a 757 but my flight was canceled due to a mechanical so I got on the direct flight (had not booked due to higher cost), but several of us Exec Plats had to sit in coach. Oh well.

17 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineBoeing767mech From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 1021 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (5 years 3 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 6885 times:



Quoting Usafret (Thread starter):
The agent at the X Class check in said this is becoming more common as AA does not have a full bench stock and has to borrow parts or have them shipped in.

There's the biggest problems we have with the MD-80. The bean-counters figured out if you didn't use the part in the last 6 months ship it out you must not need it. Yes the -80's are breaking more then the rest of the fleet becasue they are older. But since they took my parts out it makes it harder for me to fix and turn your flight. We had to cancel a flight the other day because we don't stock an exciter box for the MD-80 and the closest one was in DFW.

So part of the problem is the bean counters. Not the airplane or the mechanics working the airplane.

David



Never under-estimate the predictably of stupidty
User currently offlineIDAWA From Italy, joined Aug 2004, 303 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 3 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 6772 times:



Quoting Boeing767mech (Reply 1):
There's the biggest problems we have with the MD-80. The bean-counters figured out if you didn't use the part in the last 6 months ship it out you must not need it. Yes the -80's are breaking more then the rest of the fleet becasue they are older. But since they took my parts out it makes it harder for me to fix and turn your flight. We had to cancel a flight the other day because we don't stock an exciter box for the MD-80 and the closest one was in DFW.

So part of the problem is the bean counters. Not the airplane or the mechanics working the airplane.

This is a very good point. I think AA's problem with this issue are more the bean-counters than the MD-80s.



Flown on: 319, 320, 321, 340, 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, 777, DC9, D10, M11, M80, 146, EM2, BEH, CRJ, DH8, L4T.
User currently offlineTomFoolery From Austria, joined Jan 2004, 523 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (5 years 3 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 6664 times:



Quoting Usafret (Thread starter):
Oh, I had the outbound STL-LAX-SFO with a confirmed upgrade on a 757 but my flight was canceled due to a mechanical so I got on the direct flight (had not booked due to higher cost), but several of us Exec Plats had to sit in coach. Oh well.

Its funny that you mention this, because I have read that some airlines are starting to offer some of the first class service to some of the Elite customers in coach as well. Alaska air has started including some of the preferences on the manifests, including some info like your favorite cocktail (as a pre-takeoff drink).
As I dont fly AA, I was curious if they have anything like that?

It seems like a very nice touch.

Tom



Paper makes an airplane fly
User currently offlineGsosbee From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 825 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (5 years 3 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 6625 times:

The bean counter argument is rather hollow. The limiting factor is asset allocation. With a fixed limited amount of cash available, do you want to: (1) buy new airplanes; (2) buy and stock parts; or (3) keep people employed?

User currently offlineUs330 From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 3841 posts, RR: 14
Reply 5, posted (5 years 3 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 6550 times:

I experienced that myself firsthand. I was trying to fly home President's Day weekend--which is probably up there in terms of peak travel times, and my LGA-DFW flight was cancelled. When I got to the airport the next day (I was booked on the second to last flight out, and the earliest the agent told me they could get me to Dallas was saturday afternoon, and that was only by going through Chicago), I noticed that several flights to DFW were cancelled, and when I got to O'Hare, it was the same story.
I was scheduled to fly on an MD-80 and all of the flights that were cancelled were also on MD-80s.
Weather was not an issue that weekend, either, so I can only surmise that it had to be because of maintenance problems--why else would they cancel flights on a busy weekend knowing that the backlog would take almost a full day to clear out?


User currently offline2175301 From United States of America, joined May 2007, 1022 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (5 years 3 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 6504 times:



Quoting Gsosbee (Reply 4):
The bean counter argument is rather hollow. The limiting factor is asset allocation. With a fixed limited amount of cash available, do you want to: (1) buy new airplanes; (2) buy and stock parts; or (3) keep people employed?

While it is an assett allocation issue - it is the beancounters (the accountants) who have identified the "cost savings" in reducing spare parts. The cost savings are twofold. Direct cost of parts being stocked - and reduction in taxes paid on stocked parts (the value of most spare parts are taxed each year).

So the bean counters present to management that we can save "X" amount by not stocking parts - but usually do not present the long term cost affect of customer disatisfaction with increased delays. Often upper management does not consider the effects of reducing spare parts too much (and may be lulled by past successes of previous spare part reductions).

Airlines, and many other businesses, have always faced a ballancing act between reliability and customer service and the needed cost of inventory (or reserves) and people to maintain a needed level of reliability and customer service in order to keep their customer base.

In this specific case.... If AA gets a reputation for unreliable aircraft people will take their business elsewhere.... Replacing the planes does not in itself solve the problem as 737s need parts as well - and I am sure that the beancounters also suggested cutting parts for the 737s as well as for the MD 80s.


User currently offlineLMP737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (5 years 3 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 6364 times:



Quoting 2175301 (Reply 6):
Replacing the planes does not in itself solve the problem as 737s need parts as well - and I am sure that the beancounters also suggested cutting parts for the 737s as well as for the MD 80s.

That is true. However you can get away with it more so with the 737 than you can with the 80. The 737 does not have as many faults with systems like anti-ice, engine trim or ac packs like the 80 does.


User currently offlineGsosbee From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 825 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (5 years 3 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 6178 times:



Quoting 2175301 (Reply 6):
Often upper management does not consider the effects of reducing spare parts too much (and may be lulled by past successes of previous spare part reductions).

and you know this how? Results suggest you are correct, but as far as anyone knows, AA executives meet daily to discuss maintenance issues and the system wide effects of going thin or stocking parts in low tax jurisdictions - each of which every executive knows the effects on the product. Which gets us back to asset allocation. With a limited availability of a critical asset (cash), choices have to be made. If the Board tires of management's decisions, they have the power to change people and/or direction.

I am not saying that AA management and Board of Directors have always (if ever) made the correct decisions, but keeping that airline out of BK has been their common stated goal which they have achieved so far.


User currently offlineUAL757 From United States of America, joined Sep 2006, 806 posts, RR: 4
Reply 9, posted (5 years 3 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 5811 times:



Quoting TomFoolery (Reply 3):
Alaska air has started including some of the preferences on the manifests, including some info like your favorite cocktail (as a pre-takeoff drink).

Yes, AS has a "the first one's on us" program where they greet MVP Golds in coach and offer them a free adult beverage of their choice  Wink This program has been around for a while, but sometimes it isn't "enforced". Some F/A's forget it exists  Embarrassment

However, I have never seen the manifest indicate what type of drink it is. I think it only shows passenger name, if they are a Mileage Plan member, MVP, or (MVP) Gold, seat #, and something else maybe (but not the drink).


User currently offlineLightsaber From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12420 posts, RR: 100
Reply 10, posted (5 years 3 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 5698 times:
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Quoting Gsosbee (Reply 4):
The bean counter argument is rather hollow. The limiting factor is asset allocation. With a fixed limited amount of cash available, do you want to: (1) buy new airplanes; (2) buy and stock parts; or (3) keep people employed?

AA definitely doesn't have the cash flow to be healthy. I argue that they are destined for BK and should file while they still have enough cash on hand. Why? DIP financing will be next to impossible to secure (at this time, in this economy). In a year or two, they'll be able to issue new stock and then be 'cash heavy' enough to be very viable.

Quoting UAL757 (Reply 9):
I think it only shows passenger name, if they are a Mileage Plan member, MVP, or (MVP) Gold, seat #, and something else maybe (but not the drink).

Nice customer service.

Part of the problem is the MD-80's are consuming cash in the form of fuel and added maintenance. Even though they are 'paid for,' it would be far cheaper per flight hour to replace them. But with what? The C-series is an unknown and too small. The 738 is a bit large with a bit of an out of date engine... And what should the replacement rate be? I've read various opinions and it seems that AA would have to replace them at the rate of 6 to 8 per month!  wideeyed  Wait a second... in this economy that might be a doable thing (getting the line slots at the right price. Almost certainly governments will aid the financing.)...

Lightsaber



I've posted how many times?!?
User currently offlineMav75 From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 228 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (5 years 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 4990 times:



Quoting LMP737 (Reply 7):
That is true. However you can get away with it more so with the 737 than you can with the 80. The 737 does not have as many faults with systems like anti-ice, engine trim or ac packs like the 80 does.

What is "engine trim"?

On an unrelated note, does anyone think the AA MD-80's are destined to become the new NW DC-9's?  Smile


User currently offlineVIflyer From US Virgin Islands, joined May 1999, 498 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (5 years 3 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 3790 times:



Quoting TomFoolery (Reply 3):
Its funny that you mention this, because I have read that some airlines are starting to offer some of the first class service to some of the Elite customers in coach as well. Alaska air has started including some of the preferences on the manifests, including some info like your favorite cocktail (as a pre-takeoff drink).
As I dont fly AA, I was curious if they have anything like that?

I don't know how big brother does it (aka AA) but over at MQ if your Platinum, Exec Platinum , Air Pass, Or VIP. You are entitled to an Alcoholic beverage and either of our snacks complementary on any of our service flights in coach (since MQ doesn't have a F/J class on the aircraft). On the passenger list it shows where they are sitting and their status, but, on the RJs (especially if it's half empty) people swap seats and on full flights with half of the passengers are PL or above, the FA might forget where they are (they only human after all). In this case just inform us of your status when they come thru with beverages and they'll be more than happy to serve you the beverage of your choice.

Vi



I reject your reality and subsitute my own
User currently offlineUlfinator From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 314 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (5 years 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 2884 times:



Quoting Usafret (Thread starter):
On the 27 March 09 AA 1276, SFO to STL we had a slight delay due to mechanical on an MD 80 and came close to a cancel

Prior to getting rid of the Mad Dogs, the the flight ops guy I know at AS used to call them "Maintenance Delay, 80 Minutes".


User currently offlineTVNWZ From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 2309 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (5 years 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 2854 times:



Quoting Lightsaber (Reply 10):
Part of the problem is the MD-80's are consuming cash in the form of fuel and added maintenance. Even though they are 'paid for,' it would be far cheaper per flight hour to replace them.

Do you have the spreadsheets to support this?

They would be interesting to look at.


User currently offlineFiestaFlight From United States of America, joined Mar 2009, 54 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (5 years 3 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 2380 times:

After watching these discussions for years, I finally joined up- first post!

I know it's been talked about before... just wanted to say that while replacing the MD's w 737s is good news for many (not to mention the long term health of carriers), it's not good for me. I cherish my rides on the MadDog. Big windows, fresh air, quiet-but very cool noise and of course those 20/21 A seats. (Platinum) I'm a sucker for nostalgia, and they're the last remaining link to my flying days as a kid. (besides DC9s and 747s of course)

I've had mech issues on all aircraft types. Just had to represent/defend the metal from an airliner enthusiast point of view.

(This forum keeps me up to date on how much time I have left with these nice rides!)


User currently offlineLightsaber From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12420 posts, RR: 100
Reply 16, posted (5 years 3 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 2262 times:
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Quoting TVNWZ (Reply 14):
Do you have the spreadsheets to support this?

Actually, I'm working off 'rules of thumb.'

A new airframe (738) would cut fuel burn ~25%. So at todays oil prices, that is about a 5% cost cut in CASM. However... I wonder if the larger of the two C-series might not be the better solution for the MD-80 replacement. (Its a more 73G sized airframe.) That would save a bit more in fuel. (Go GTF!)

The lease or finance costs generally are about 11% of CASM. With AA's buying volume, I would assume they would be able to pare acquisition costs down a bit, so let's call that 10%..

So without any added maintenance costs, a new airframe is 4-5% more expensive before the benefit of the few added seats are added in. But then there is the maintenance costs and added missions new airframes could perform.

It primarily comes down to one's assumptions on the maintenance costs you believe the MD-80's impart onto AA. There is far more costs in a missed flight than the overtime of a mechanic or parts. Also, how much would the costs be reduced with an all 738 fleet? AA has incurred a cost flying two types.

I believe AA would cut costs ~5% going to an all 738 fleet (short term) (slightly greater drop in CASM due to the added seats), with the costs savings growing with time (due to MD-80 aging) and fuel (oil going back up in price).

Lightsaber



I've posted how many times?!?
User currently offlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 22304 posts, RR: 20
Reply 17, posted (5 years 3 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 2234 times:



Quoting Lightsaber (Reply 16):
I believe AA would cut costs ~5% going to an all 738 fleet (short term) (slightly greater drop in CASM due to the added seats), with the costs savings growing with time (due to MD-80 aging) and fuel (oil going back up in price).

Of course, there's also the question of how quickly AA could get 300 738 delivery slots. Until that point, the mixed fleet is a given, which changes the calculus a bit.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
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