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View Full Version : Advice on MEL required please.


self-l-freight
6th Aug 2011, 16:36
I was a passenger (almost) on a flight which was cancelled due to "a failure in the APU fire detection system".

Could the plane (Boeing, bhx>belfast) have operated without the APU FDS operating or was it essential?

Any additional info welcome as I'm taking them to court for compensation as they say it was "an extraordinary circumstance" necessitating cancellation.

spannersatcx
6th Aug 2011, 17:05
yes it could if it was a 747 but don't know about other types, however if there was no ground support available the other end, then with an inop APU, it would be preferable to fix it first.

Avionker
6th Aug 2011, 17:14
Aircraft type? (probably a 737 but just to confirm). Operator?

Incidentally just because the MEL says it can go doesn't mean that the Captain is legally obliged to take it.

Mad (Flt) Scientist
6th Aug 2011, 18:40
A failed system isn't necessarily an inoperative system.

if it was happily posting APU Fire messages every minute or two, you couldn't go with it, whatever the MEL says, because the MEL is for inoperative systems not malfunctioning systems.

Mad (Flt) Scientist
6th Aug 2011, 18:50
This is extracted from the MMEL on the TCCA website (it's the FAA MMEL, though)
8. APU Fire Detection System
1) Single and Dual Loop
C - 0 (O) Except for ER operations, may be inoperative provided APU is not used.

2) APU DET INOP Light
C 1 0 (O) May be inoperative extinguished provided:
a) APU fire detection system operates normally,
and
b) A fire warning test is performed before each APU start.

3) Dual Loop
C 2 1 (O) Except for ER operations beyond 120 minutes, one loop (A or B) may be inoperative.

4) External Warning Horn/Warning Light
C 1 0 May be inoperative for ground operation provided flight deck APU Overheat/Fire Protection Panel is continuously monitored.
So there are circumstances where the APU FDS is required. Doesn't sound like yours was an ER operation, but if for whatever reason they were going to need the APU then it's required. And if it was item #4 it's a no-go for flight.

Also the operator MEL may be more restrictive than the MMEL.

3holelover
7th Aug 2011, 00:13
I'm taking them to court for compensation
I suppose you'd rather them take you where you want to go with an unserviceable aircraft then, would you? Why not take the bus, or boat or donkey...?
People who seem to think their rights have been trampled when an airplane doesn't go should all climb aboard the damned Titanic.

"Time to spare? Go by air." is an old saying with much meaning. If your flight is cancelled due to unserviceable equipment, you should thank your lucky stars that someone was being careful enough to have noticed, before you found yourself hurtling along at 500 mph in the atmosphere in need of that unserviceable part.

Yes, there are several scenarios that could ground an aircraft with U/S APU fire detection. I hope the courts make you cover the costs of your frivolous claim!

BOAC
7th Aug 2011, 08:54
SLF - ASSUMING it was a fully serviceable 737 (apart from the APU FDS) then I'm pretty sure most MELs would allow dispatch, especially on that route and I would probably have been happy to take it subject to no need for the APU

However, as explained, it is the Captain's decision. There may have been other factors involved in serviceability terms which they would not have bothered to explain to pax. I would suspect that any attempt to 'take the airline to court' for failure to transport you is doomed to expensive failure. I can assure you that in my opinion it would be unusual for anyone to refuse to fly that sector on those grounds alone, so there would almost certainly have been other issues involved. Let me give you one hypothetical example - one of the engine driven generators has been tripping off occasionally over the last few days with no obvious fault and a replacement is to be fitted that night - I would probably not take the aircraft. Indeed an engineer might not be willing to apply the MEL in that case anyway. Would you expect a detailed PA from the crew reading out all the Tech Log entries for the last week? The airline itself would be taking a close look at the decision in any case since it impacts them heavily.

In a nutshell, it is the Captain's responsibility IN LAW to ensure the a/c is fit for 'the intended flight' and that is YOUR protection. I would suggest leaving it there?

3holelover
7th Aug 2011, 12:53
BOAC,
That was a MUCH better response than mine. Well done.
I'm afraid this notion of passengers expecting compensation when murphy worms his way into aircraft systems really grinds at me... It is just the nature of the business. Often times it's hard enough to make the decision to keep an aircraft on the ground... we don't need the added threat of litigation to sway the minds of "production managers" who already too often push for wrong decisions.

In any case, yessir, any existing electrical or pneumatic difficulties, whether MEL'd or not, could mean they'd be counting on the APU. The expected temperature at destination could also effect the decision, as you know there'd be a planeload of lawyers waiting to sue for staining their shirts as they wait to depart.

I fear we've become a little bit too good at making air travel appear so simple that it's taken for granted as being no different than bus travel... sadly, it's even expected to cost less in some cases.

grounded27
7th Aug 2011, 14:49
I'm afraid this notion of passengers expecting compensation when murphy worms his way into aircraft systems really grinds at me... It is just the nature of the business. Often times it's hard enough to make the decision to keep an aircraft on the ground... we don't need the added threat of litigation to sway the minds of "production managers" who already too often push for wrong decisions.

I have to disagree, the nature of the industry has nothing to do with not receiving a product you payed for and did not receive. Now, your sentiments are wasted as are the SLF's interest in a day in court. I am sure the airline has some small print (terms and conditions) that has this condition covered. Unless SLF is a sh*thouse lawyer and is sure that "an extraordinary circumstance" is a legal term that a mechanical failure does not fall under in the airlines terms and conditions, SLF is wasting time.

3holelover
7th Aug 2011, 15:51
@Grounded27,

The issue then is exactly what product is paid for, right? I'd say it's a flight from/to XXX that is scheduled at x-time, but not promised. We cannot make such a promise in this business, due to it's nature. Many things can happen to upset that schedule-- Which is why I say it is the nature of the business.

MarkerInbound
7th Aug 2011, 23:30
4) External Warning Horn/Warning Light
C 1 0 May be inoperative for ground operation provided flight deck APU Overheat/Fire Protection Panel is continuously monitored.

So there are circumstances where the APU FDS is required. ..... And if it was item #4 it's a no-go for flight.



I know nothing about the 737. And I agree on first reading it sounds like the external horn and light are required in flight. However, on both the 727 and 747 the external warning system is deactivated by the air/ground sensor.

grounded27
8th Aug 2011, 04:08
The issue then is exactly what product is paid for, right?

Well YES. The transgressions of the industry have nothing to do with the expectations that are sold to the market. Come on, a bit of business sense? Chock it up to loss v/s profit. If your inadiquate airline can not provide reasonable service you are at a loss. There is a disparity in service that has degraded over time despite having more reliable machines. Airlines seek to maintain less spares for profit. This level of business is decided beyond our control, but we can not seriously dismiss the expectations of our customers?

3holelover
8th Aug 2011, 05:04
Well YES. The transgressions of the industry have nothing to do with the expectations that are sold to the market. Come on, a bit of business sense? Chock it up to loss v/s profit. If your inadiquate airline can not provide reasonable service you are at a loss. There is a disparity in service that has degraded over time despite having more reliable machines. Airlines seek to maintain less spares for profit. This level of business is decided beyond our control, but we can not seriously dismiss the expectations of our customers?
With the utmost respect, I submit that is TOTAL Bullshevack! Airlines are not factories pumping out widgets, or rubber dog poo. They peddle a trip in an airplane. A flying machine. An assembly of man made bits and pieces that has to perform as designed, or people could die. We do not take that responsibility lightly. When something among those bits and pieces is faulty, we have to know it, find it, and determine whether or not it's safe to fly without it. If it was strictly economics driven (ie., if the beancounters always got their way), an awful lot more airplanes would be falling from the sky on a regular basis.

If people have the expectation to go when their ticket says they go, regardless..... They're using the wrong form of transport, and we've saved millions of lives by denying them that result, on occasion.

Beancounters be damned. Sickeningly selfish litigants be damned... lawyers be damned. Air travel is not bus travel and the rules we live by are designed to avoid killing people, including the idiots that would "expect" their ticket is a contract to get them somewhere exactly as they expect.

Stuff happens!

BOAC
8th Aug 2011, 08:11
MFS - as 'Marker' points out, Item #4 relates only to ground operation of the APU and external horns become slightly less relevant at 30,000':)

Not relevant here, but I can explain more by PM if you wish.

Checkboard
8th Aug 2011, 10:04
3holelover, its pretty obvious that the OP is dealing with an Irish airline which is rumored to deny ALL claims in the first instance. :hmm:

What you might WISH to be the case is irrelevant when the law has something to say, and you seem woefully uninformed of EU law:

Cancellation
Financial compensation is due unless you were informed 14 days before the flight, or you were rerouted close to your original times, or the airline can prove that the cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances.

I dont think an inop APU on a European internal flight is extraordinary - and neither does the court!

In a landmark judgment, the European Court of Justice said that airlines must pay up unless the technical fault was due to exceptional circumstances such as terrorism or sabotage.

The ruling was a victory for both consumer groups and the European Commission which has accused airlines of frequently trying to sidestep their legal obligations.

Passengers win right to compensation when flights cancelled for technical faults. - Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/3903022/Passengers-win-right-to-compensation-when-flights-cancelled-for-technical-faults..html)

Mad (Flt) Scientist
8th Aug 2011, 13:26
BOAC and Marker, thanks. Danger of just reading the MMEL out of context.

matkat
8th Aug 2011, 15:38
If it was a B737 then yes it can go with it Inop(APU) its a 'C' mel (10 days)

Dan Winterland
8th Aug 2011, 16:48
So long as other conditions are met. I don't know the exact details of the 737 MMEL, but both generators have to be serviceable in our MEL in the 320 for a dispatch with the APU inop.