Posts: 220
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2001 3:24 am

Right Tool For The Right Job

Tue Apr 13, 2004 5:12 am

Last week I flew Southwest from Manchester to Orlando. While waiting to get on board, I was watching the plane being serviced. The woman had just finished removing the blue hose from the "lavatory service" port and was now trying to close the cover. She could not get one of the latches to close. She tried for several minutes, and finally called another woman over. She grabbed a piece of large diameter black hose which had a brass ring clamp at the end. She used this as a hammer to beat the latch closed. She missed the first few tries and wound up hitting the fuselage outside the port cover area.

I know nothing about operations, but this seems wrong to me. I like resourcefulness in a crisis, but clearly, this was no crisis.

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Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2001 1:29 pm

RE: Right Tool For The Right Job

Tue Apr 13, 2004 6:49 am

Those are people that don't understand how thin and delicate aircraft skin can be in some places. She could have easily dented the skin to a point where the airflow was disturbed enough to change the pressure over the access panel and cause it to flutter and eventually fail.

Some people do scare me.
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Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2001 4:52 pm

RE: Right Tool For The Right Job

Tue Apr 13, 2004 7:18 am

As a SWA mechanic, this disturbs me but doesn't surprise me. Sadly, many ground personnel (not all) have little respect or understanding of the aircraft they service. In a situation like that, if you feel that the aircraft might be damaged, please do not hesitate to notify an employee (CSA or F/A, or preferably a pilot if you see them while boarding). Fortunately, the aircraft undergo numerous service checks; if the aircraft was indeed damaged, an alert mechanic will spot it.
Patrick Bateman is my hero.
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RE: Right Tool For The Right Job

Tue Apr 13, 2004 7:43 am

The worst thing a ground handling company can do is fire someone for accidentally damaging an a/c. If you do that, you instill a culture in the employees of not reporting damage.

Obviously, you haven't followed procedures, or its your 5th offence that's a different matter
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RE: Right Tool For The Right Job

Tue Apr 13, 2004 8:49 am

THough it does sound like this was more than just "accidentally damaging" if she was whacking away with a hose.
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RE: Right Tool For The Right Job

Tue Apr 13, 2004 9:07 am

Boy it is a good think the mx staff didn't see them doing that!
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RE: Right Tool For The Right Job

Tue Apr 13, 2004 10:48 am

Whack HER with a mag lite!

I had a situation once on a freighter ( I only work freighters in my current job), when a pallet lock didn´t want to open on a 747 main deck. I was doing cockpit checks and noticed the loaders bringing in a big tirfor winch with a 1/2 inch steel cable, a big crow bar and a sledge hammer. I asked them what they intended to do with the stuff. They told me about the jammed lock and told me that they wanted to pull the pallet out with the winch and force the lock open (and while doing this tear open the whole floor of the cargo deck!). I told him to get the stuff the f*ck out of my plane and had a look myself. The ops guy was already running in circles because of a possible delay. Well, I had a lock at the lock and opened it with the help of a screwdriver and a plastic mallet. It was damaged, so I changed it once the cargo was off the plane.

Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
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RE: Right Tool For The Right Job

Tue Apr 13, 2004 2:19 pm


That reminds me of when I worked line MX on DC-8 cargo aircraft. Many of the "cookie sheets" that the loaders would use to build their pallets were curled up at the ends and would sometimes get stuck. Without notifying us mechanics, as we were often busy readying the aircraft, they would try and force the pallets through the "tight spots" by pushing them fast and using the freight's momentum. Often times, this would result in broken cargo locks or seat tracks. Then there were the times they would try to use a large pry bar or jimmy bar to free up a stuck pallet, which frequently resulted in a broken or punctured floorboard. Not that they would tell us when they damaged something; we would always find these things after the fact. Of course most of these incidents could have been avoided with a little patience/common sense or, more importantly, by using "igloos" or "cookie sheets" in good condition. When we did happen to witness the loaders trying to force a pallet, we were quick to intervene in order to prevent damage to the airplane.

Also, those ex-UAL DC-8's had the "bomb bay" cargo pit doors which were notorious for becoming jammed if not closed correctly. The loaders would often get one "off track" and not let us know, so when the plane was ready to go, we would have a screwed up door to contend with at the last minute. The planeside reps were always quick to put the delay (if there was one) on MX even though we weren't the ones to blame.

Then there were the times that the loaders would neglect to put up the cargo nets at the previous station, the freight would shift and rest on the inside of the door, making it incredibly difficult to open the door since the doors moved upward when first opened before sliding, fore or aft into their recess. It was during one of those times that I spotted a planeside rep attempting to pry the door open with a large flatblade screwdriver. I told him to get the f*ck away from my airplane and that I better not see him ever use a screwdriver on any of my planes ever again. He wasn't too happy (we had a few choice words for each other), but he did stop what he was doing and stepped back so that I could open the door the proper way and avoid damaging the skin of the aircraft. Eventually, we ironed things out between us and he saw things from my perspective. We even became pretty good friends, I suppose.

As I'm you sure you know, you have to get people like that to understand that planes aren't "trucks with wings" and have to be treated more delicately. Sometimes they see things your way, sometimes they don't.

Patrick Bateman is my hero.
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RE: Right Tool For The Right Job

Tue Apr 13, 2004 2:30 pm

I just love it if they push a pallet or a container through the dor croked (not straight), it jams and they use the k-loader to slam another 7 ton container against the first one to force it into the plane.
Once they complained that the ball mats in the door area were too stiff and they had to push too hard. I got some LPS 1 spray and sprayed all the little balls on their insistence. Afterwards they complained about the floor being slippery! I also knew some mechanics who, when changing wheels and the new wheel wouldn´t slide on immideately, would resort to brute force (kicking the wheel, throwing themselves against it) instead of checking the alignment of the brake disks.

Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
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Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2000 5:52 am

RE: Right Tool For The Right Job

Thu Apr 15, 2004 11:56 am

She did the right thing .....Sure she's not a mechanic, but I'll bet you 50 bucks a mechanic would have came over, looked at it then beat it shut too. Delays bad. On time good. Its all in the life of an airliner. You should see what happens to the cargo locks on the freighters I work on ......
Next time try the old "dirty Sanchez" She'll love it !!!
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RE: Right Tool For The Right Job

Thu Apr 15, 2004 3:50 pm


You are probably right except a good mechanic wouldn't miss and hit the airctaft skin Big grin
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RE: Right Tool For The Right Job

Thu Apr 15, 2004 4:55 pm

"if you think safety is expensive [i e when it causes a delay], try a disaster".

I thought I was doing good trying to avoid those airport hotels... and look at me now.
A/c train
Posts: 674
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2001 7:57 am

RE: Right Tool For The Right Job

Fri Apr 16, 2004 1:20 am

See, you expect to see dents around the pax entry/exit doors and occasionally the A/Y equation says its outa limits, but you dont expect a dent around the lav service panel !!, wish people would call a mech over when they have problems like that, or tell the flight crew, they would have more of a clue .

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