Wilcharl From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1158 posts, RR: 3 Posted (11 years 2 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 768 times:
Today I was flying home, and after engine start, we had no air conditioning. we continued to taxi and shortly after the aircraft did a sharp turn into the GA ramp and started taxiing back to the gate. the fo came on and said we were returning for an inop. apu and that it was only a paperwork issue. mx came on board filled out the logs and we pushed back out, both engines were left running while we were in the gate. all in all this took 45 minutes
here is my question, if the APU was inop (apparently it was working as we had ground power and air on the ground along with starting the engines without an air start) so if the APU went offline during taxi out, why did we have to return to the gate to get this item mel'ed couldnt this have waited to our destination rather then doing a gate return ?
Wilcharl From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1158 posts, RR: 3 Reply 2, posted (11 years 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 738 times:
but in reality how often is this the case? short of having an FAA guy riding jumpseat, or having an accident where the tapes are pulled who is to say that APU didnt light off when it was time for landing... yes im glad the crew leaned torwards the side of safety and had no problem with the gate return, but how often would this be the case? i know back in my airline days it an ontime dispatch seemed to outweigh safety
OPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 3, posted (11 years 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 739 times:
I'll take your two questions in reverse order...
>>>couldnt this have waited to our destination rather then doing a gate return ?
No. It's long been an industry interpretation that for MEL item deferral purposes, an aircraft was considered to have "departed" once it pushed back from the gate area, or otherwise began its forward taxi out of the gate area, and towards the active runway. After a major case involving an improper deferral back in 1989 that resulted in the captain and dispatcher losing their licenses for 180 days, and the airline being fined $60,000, attention was focused on the issue. It took a few years, but FAA legal essentially ruled that an aircraft taxiing between the gate and the active runway has *NOT* departed, and is subject to the same MEL conditions that it would be had the inop item been discovered before having pushed back from the gate.
>>>why did we have to return to the gate to get this item mel'ed
Not every item that fails during taxiout is a critical issue, and some, in fact, I'd say most are handled over the radio between the flight's captain and their dispatcher (even in a centralized office, we have comm ability anywhere with the aircraft). In the case of an inoperative APU, one of the MEL provisos, or conditions for dispatch, is that the APU area of the tail must receive a visual inspection to confirm that there was no damage from any potential APU fire. The crew can't do this while out on a taxiway, so a gate return is required. That particular proviso was changed a few years ago--prior to it, it was just defer the APU via radio and go... Not any more.
The crew on your flight did it by the book--what airline gets the kudos for professionalism?