wilcharl
Posts: 1156
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2000 11:19 am

Gate Return

Sat Jun 01, 2002 11:07 am

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 ?

 
apathoid
Posts: 887
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2001 3:19 pm

RE: Gate Return

Sat Jun 01, 2002 12:19 pm

It is a violation to depart with a known defect. Having maintenance defer the item would avoid any problems were they to pick up a fed anywhere along the line.
 
wilcharl
Posts: 1156
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2000 11:19 am

RE: Gate Return

Sat Jun 01, 2002 1:10 pm

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
Posts: 11191
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 1999 11:29 am

RE: Gate Return

Sat Jun 01, 2002 1:12 pm

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?
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
wilcharl
Posts: 1156
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2000 11:19 am

RE: Gate Return

Sat Jun 01, 2002 1:44 pm

the honors go to Delta

and the in flight crew was great and none of the pax were overly stressed over it, all in all it was a great flight

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests