Hi Triple Seven, Buzz here. I could go into some detail if i still worked overhaul, i thank God that i moved out to the Line may years ago.
UAL had been contracting 20 to 25% of it's heavy overhaul to other companies for 5 or 6 years. Some of the Vice Presidents have seats on the Heavy Overhaul companies. Do i see a conflict of interest?
As of June '03 all of our heavy overhaul has been "out-sourced". The quality of the work is fair to good, occasionally we find a really bad safety-of-flight item that was missed. I think it's due to the low level of experience in the production line workers there - even if you have been a mechanic for a few years it takes a while to know what parts of an airliner need more attention. Almost any company can fill in the squares of a check list. But to know where to look and to spend the time correcting the problems on your OWN airplanes takes a different motivation. I think it's a long-term view of a comapny instead of the present short term view. But then i'm "preaching to the choir" because i'm convinced that "quality pays off in the long run"
I think the reason that UAL doesn't do it's own overhauls is to reduce the budget needed for heavy maint. It's an accounting game, the costs of badly overhauled airplanes drop into another budget... And the people managing don't have to deal with some union mechanics who have critically needed skills. But under the spectre of totally liquidating the company the Indy and Oakland overhaul bases were closed and sold, anybody who wanted to move could travel to SFO
and do C-checks and some modification work (in a part of the USA that is very expensive to live).
I think there is a real benefit to having the overhaul, engineering, and maint. training departments close together: A problem seen in one department can be quickly communicated and resolved.
Alas, i fear UAL has too much in-breeding in the upper ranks.
Buzz Fuselsausage: Line Mechanic by night, DC-3 Crew Chief by Choice, taildragger pilot for fun.