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ShuttleDweller
Topic Author
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Aug 14, 2004 4:35 am

Financially Distressed Airlines & Safety

Tue Nov 23, 2004 11:03 am

I was wondering if anyone here thinks there is a relationship between financially distressed airlines and flight safety. Particularly useful would be any information from someone who has 1st-hand knowledge about airline technical operations:

With all the financial problems in the airline industry, there is tons of skimping nowadays - you can't get a CSA on the phone, lines are long at check-in, no meals, etc. I'm wondering if there are similar cutbacks on safety - of course, the airlines would not be grossly negligent with respect to safety (one would hope), but are they cutting back??? Even assuming that they follow all FAA rules, are they getting rid of *extra* safety measures that they once used, but now can no longer afford??? Although I fly a lot, I don't know much about internal operations of airlines, so I have literally no perspective about this.

I started thinking about this after noticing the HORRIBLE condition of the USAir BOS-DCA shuttle (737-300). The paint is peeling, with huge chunks missing, the interior is shabby (to put it mildly), the air conditioning was broken on my last flight, and worst of all (not kidding), a latch above the engine was held down with DUCT TAPE. Are the functioning parts of the plane in that bad of shape also, or is safety something that NO airline (even financially distressed ones) will compromise?????

[Edited 2004-11-23 03:06:33]
 
FriendlySkies
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RE: Financially Distressed Airlines & Safety

Tue Nov 23, 2004 11:08 am

You have no reason to feel less safe on a bankrupt airline than a "healthy" airline. Peeling paint says nothing about the condition of the aircraft. I recall many posts about how crappy Mesaba's ARJs looked paint-wise, but I would have no fears flying on their aircraft. Duct tape is used for temporary repairs when the aircraft cannot be repaired fully. If the aircraft was at any risk should the part not be fully repaired, the airline would not put it in service. Basically, if anything, safety is better than it was years ago.
 
VonRichtofen
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Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2000 3:10 am

RE: Financially Distressed Airlines & Safety

Tue Nov 23, 2004 11:12 am

Plus I don't think they use run of the mill duct tape you get at Home Depot. They use special tape for aviation maintenance that looks similar to duct tape I believe. I could be wrong though
 
goingboeing
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RE: Financially Distressed Airlines & Safety

Tue Nov 23, 2004 11:23 am

Living in Kansas City, and flying on TWA during their "financally troubled" years, plus knowing some of the mechanics that worked at the overhaul base, I can tell you that no matter how "troubled" the airline was, and no matter how tense the labor situation was - the number one priority of those mechanics was making sure that the aircraft was is sound mechanical order. Any pressure from above was disregarded because those guys KNEW those aircraft, and wouldn't sign off on a plane that they felt wasn't right.
 
SonOfACaptain
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RE: Financially Distressed Airlines & Safety

Tue Nov 23, 2004 11:58 am

Yeah don't worry about safety at US. They don't do small things that will make the planes "beautiful" all the time, but they always make the planes safe. And trust me, if a US pilot didn't think his plane was safe to fly, he will not take it up. They have to much experience to do that.

-SOAC
Non Illegitimi Carborundum
 
ANCFlyer
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RE: Financially Distressed Airlines & Safety

Tue Nov 23, 2004 12:22 pm

No safety concerns visa vis a bankrupt air carrier. I'd hop on a UA aircraft or US aircraft today, no safety questions asked.

Remember, Finanical Stability and Safety are not representative of one another - example: (Sorry to me friends at AS) AS261. MD-80 that took many lives in Jan 2000 - AS was not, is not, and likely won't be bankrupt. But the aircraft is lost nonetheless.

And having many, many, many (too many) miles on US, I can assure you - they were safe when they left the ground.
FOR THOSE THAT FOUGHT FOR IT, FREEDOM HAS A FLAVOR THE PROTECTED WILL NEVER KNOW OR UNDERSTAND
 
dl757md
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RE: Financially Distressed Airlines & Safety

Tue Nov 23, 2004 12:41 pm

a latch above the engine was held down with DUCT TAPE.

It was speed tape not duct tape. It is an aluminum tape and stuff similar to it can be bought in Home Depot. This is a perfectly acceptable temporary repair per the MEL/AMM that keeps the plane flying SAFELY until the it can be routed to a mtc station with the required parts, manpower, ground time, etc.

Safety, at a financially ailing airline I wouldn't say is compromised, dispatch reliability on the other hand does suffer leading to more delays cancellations.

Dl757Md
757 Most beautiful airliner in the sky!
 
spacecadet
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RE: Financially Distressed Airlines & Safety

Tue Nov 23, 2004 12:55 pm

There are standards and procedures for the maintenance of every aircraft that must be followed. An airline can ask for an exemption or a procedure change to be approved by the FAA but the main point is it's generally not up to the airline to decide they want to save money by skimping on maintenance.

The FAA is supposed to monitor safety and maintenance procedures at every airline and they're not going to just let an airline slide because they're not making money. Of course, that doesn't mean the system is perfect - Alaska Airlines, for example, was under an intense FAA investigation into their maintenance practices for I believe 2 years prior to the crash of flight 261 (which was a maintenance related accident), and the FAA had actually approved the change in procedure that led to flight 261's crash. So there definitely are times when things don't work as they are supposed to. But I don't think the fact that an airline is bankrupt really has anything to do with it - most of the maintenance-related crashes in the past have not involved cash-strapped airlines, just airlines looking to save a buck wherever they can. Hey, even if you're making money, there's no harm in making more, right? This is why standards and regulations exist.

A cash-strapped airline probably will skimp on non-safety related maintenance such as cabin interior appearance, fabrics and paint, though. Just because a plane's got some old, worn-out seats and some peeling paint doesn't mean its engines are about to explode too. That's a different issue altogether.
I'm tired of being a wanna-be league bowler. I wanna be a league bowler!
 
pilotpip
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RE: Financially Distressed Airlines & Safety

Tue Nov 23, 2004 12:56 pm

If anything, the safety is something that I think would step up because an incident that would bring negative attention could be the final straw that puts them under. No mechanic/pilot/ground personel in their right mind would ever do something that could compromise their careers, let alone kill hundreds of people.
DMI
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Financially Distressed Airlines & Safety

Tue Nov 23, 2004 4:37 pm

the air conditioning was broken on my last flight, and worst of all (not kidding), a latch above the engine was held down with DUCT TAPE.
The Air Conditioning CANNOT be not working in Flight,How would you Pressurize the Aircraft.
If it was not cooling on Ground it was because of a U/S APU,If you are referring to the Air comming out above the Seat ceiling thats the Gasper Air not the Air Condition air.
The Duct tape cannot Hold the Latch,The Duct tape was probably there to give streamline effect to a not aligned latch to reduce parasite drag.
No Airline will compromise on Mx.Remember Paperwork plays a big role.
regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
Maersk737
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RE: Financially Distressed Airlines & Safety

Tue Nov 23, 2004 6:03 pm

You and I know it is safety first at any US airline...

It's more the feeling you have in the back of your head, when you get on a plane that looks totally worn out. Even though these "feelings" are irrational.


Cheers

Peter
I'm not proud to be a Viking, just thankfull
 
MEA-707
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RE: Financially Distressed Airlines & Safety

Tue Nov 23, 2004 6:19 pm

actually it's the other way around, airlines which expand too quickly have had crashes, at least in the past.
Valujet was growing very rapidly when their DC-9 crashed in the Everglades, not to blame on the aircraft but probably due to rush rush procedures with subcontractors.
Also JAL had a few DC-8 crashes in the mid 1970s because just anyone who could fly was rushed into their quickly growing 747 fleet, leaving the DC-8s in incapable hands.
nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
 
dl757md
Posts: 1483
Joined: Mon May 24, 2004 9:32 am

RE: Financially Distressed Airlines & Safety

Wed Nov 24, 2004 1:56 am

The Duct tape cannot Hold the Latch,The Duct tape was probably there to give streamline effect to a not aligned latch to reduce parasite drag.


Incorrect. An INOP latch CAN be taped to prevent it from opening provided a minimum number of latches remain operative for that door, cowl, etc.. I don't have the MEL right in front of me so I can't site directly from it but we do it routinely. To clarify the tape doesn't hold the door shut, the remaining latches do. It just keeps the INOP latch from flapping in the airstream.

Dl757Md
757 Most beautiful airliner in the sky!
 
air2gxs
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RE: Financially Distressed Airlines & Safety

Wed Nov 24, 2004 5:46 am

From a maintenance point of view, what suffers is optional maintenance tasks. These are tasks that the airline and/or the manufacturer have determined will improve reliability and service. An example; we are in the process of replacing all the prox sensors in the landing gear indication system on all our B767s. Why? Because a newer, improved part has been approved and we were/are plagued by "landing gear monitor" messages. If we were not making money, we probably would not be doing this mod. Its expensive and time consuming.
 
OB1504
Posts: 3996
Joined: Tue Jul 27, 2004 5:10 am

RE: Financially Distressed Airlines & Safety

Wed Nov 24, 2004 5:57 am

actually it's the other way around, airlines which expand too quickly have had crashes, at least in the past.
Valujet was growing very rapidly when their DC-9 crashed in the Everglades, not to blame on the aircraft but probably due to rush rush procedures with subcontractors.


And I suppose the boxes of improperly packaged oxygen canisters had nothing to do with it?  Big grin

OB-1504  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
 
pilotpip
Posts: 2844
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RE: Financially Distressed Airlines & Safety

Wed Nov 24, 2004 11:13 am

"And I suppose the boxes of improperly packaged oxygen canisters had nothing to do with it?"

Yes, but not having proper staff to oversee the MRO that was contracted to perform the check, and a crew that was in too big a rush to realize that the canisters were COMAT and not authorized had a big roll too.
DMI

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