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American re-Grounds its MD-80s

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American re-Grounds its MD-80s

Old 9th Apr 2008, 00:12
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American re-Grounds its MD-80s

From Dallas Morning News this afternoon...

American Airlines canceling up to 500 flights to re-inspect MD-80s

05:56 PM CDT on Tuesday, April 8, 2008

By TERRY MAXON / The Dallas Morning News
[email protected]

American Airlines Inc. said it was canceling as many as 500 flights Tuesday to re-inspect its McDonnell Douglas aircraft, with more cancellations likely Wednesday.

“We’ve been working in good faith to ensure that we are in complete compliance with this airworthiness directive,” American Airlines chairman and chief executive officer said Gerard Arpey said Tuesday afternoon.
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“We regret and apologize that we are once again causing inconvenience to our customers, but we will continue to work in good faith until we satisfy all of the technical issues related to this airworthiness directive.”

American canceled hundreds of flights two weeks ago for the same reason: to make sure that wire bundles in the fleet of MD-80s were properly protected.

American said the re-inspections are to “ensure precise and complete compliance with the Federal Aviation Administration’s airworthiness directive” and that the inspections “are related to detailed, technical compliance issues and not safety-of-flight issues.”

The Allied Pilots Association said the Federal Aviation Administration randomly inspected 10 MD-80s on Monday to make sure the jets had been properly inspected and modified. Of the 10, nine did not pass the audit, the union said.

At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Dallas businessman Tony Morris, 45, was preparing to board his American flight to Minneapolis-St. Paul in mid afternoon when his BlackBerry and that of passengers around him began alerting them that their 4 p.m. flight was canceled.

The airport departure display, which just minutes before had been covered with blue to indicate the flights were going, quickly was covered with red labels telling passengers that their flights were canceled.

“There’s not a lot of happy people out here,” he said.

He and a colleague were catching an early-evening Midwest Airlines flight through Milwaukee and will still make their early Wednesday meeting, although they wouldn’t make a Tuesday evening meal with clients.

A D/FW Airport spokesman said at about 3:30 p.m. that American had notified airport officials that it would be canceling all flights using MD-80 aircraft Tuesday and expected there may be additional cancellations Wednesday.

The airport was advised the re-inspections would affect as many as 500 flights systemwide, spokesman Brian Murnahan said, and said American had canceled 193 D/FW departures for Tuesday. On an average day, American operates around 2,200 flights systemwide, including about 500 at D/FW Airport.

According to the Web site Flightstats.com, American as of 4:15 p.m. had canceled 320 flights.

At D/FW’s Terminal C, passengers filled the ticketing lobby near gate C-21, while the flight monitor showed cancellations in yellow. Some passengers said they had been waiting since 3:30.

Andy Bulkey was headed from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. He said that his connecting flight was canceled, so he got rebooked on a 6:40 p.m. flight. After waiting in line for about an hour and a half, he still had at about three dozen people in front of him, but he considered himself lucky.

“My flight is a 757,” he said.

Employees from American handed out fliers with a copy of its press release about the cancellations on one side and travel rebooking information on the side. The airline flyer said that passengers would not be able to collect baggage Tuesday; bags would be forwarded on the first available flight to their destination. Meanwhile, passengers stood around talking on their cellphones and trying to figure out what to do.

Gerald Rogan was in Grapevine for a business conference and was scheduled to return to Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday evening when he found out his flight was cancelled. He arrived at Terminal C, saw the long line and called his travel agent. He ended up booking himself a flight on United Airlines for $805 so he could make a business meeting in Sacramento Wednesday morning.

Mr. Logan was confused by the cancellations. “It says right here that it’s not a safety issue,” he said, pointing to the press release that American employees were handing out. “So why are they canceling all these flights on an emergency basis?”

He said he didn’t have any choice other than to book the flight on another carrier. “American doesn’t have any other flights tonight,” he said. “I’d rather go home.”

Tracy Skelton was trying to get back to Nashville, Tenn., and was also frustrated by the cancellations.

“I’m not a flier anyway, and this isn’t a good experience,” she said. “I’ve got a 16-year-old at home, and I need to get back there.”

She said she called her sister to try to find other flights on other airlines.

“Southwest had a flight but I can’t get [to Dallas Love Field] in time,” she said. “I don’t understand how it could be OK yesterday but not OK today,” she said about the safety issues.

Patrick Carroll of Richardson was supposed to fly to Tucson, Ariz., Tuesday evening on an MD-80 before his flight was canceled. He said he’s scheduled for Wednesday, but he’s not sure what type of aircraft it’s on.

“That’s our concern — if it’s on another MD-80, we could still have a problem.”

Staff writer Suzanne Marta contributed to this report.
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Old 9th Apr 2008, 01:38
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she said. “I don’t understand how it could be OK yesterday but not OK today,” she said about the safety issues.
I dont think she would be saying that if it was her aircraft that came down because of wire bundles catching fire/shorting etc
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Old 9th Apr 2008, 02:36
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Local News (Florida) reporting that the original A/D called for the wiring looms to be secured every 1''. Although the inspection 2 weeks ago showed no chafing or damage, apparently the engineers never checked the compliance with the 1" spacing on the securing ties. FAA QA check failed 9 out of 10 MD-80's for having ties spaced more than an inch.

Apparently, if you have just gone on Worldwide TV for non-compliance of an A/D the FAA can be quite picky over your subsequent recovery actions - who knew?
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Old 9th Apr 2008, 03:09
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if at first you don't succeed try try again.
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Old 9th Apr 2008, 05:05
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BA Mgnt has Friends over Here

I always thought an AD was to be complied with - PERIOD.

It appears that folks at my airline don't take AD's seriously. THAT kind of attitude pisses me off, 'cause it very well could be my butt in the plane that has an incident while in flight.

Here is a link to an announcement from APA (Pilots Union) http://aviationblog.dallasnews.com/

How do these folks expect to get away with this kind of stupidity? Oh, I see, they chat with Wee Willie . . . . .
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Old 9th Apr 2008, 07:38
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<quote> I dont think she would be saying that if it was her aircraft that came down because of wire bundles catching fire/shorting etc</quote>

Nor if she knew that was the risk. Bet she wasn't told why at the airport.
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Old 9th Apr 2008, 12:10
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grounding all planes suddenly does seem massive over reaction, caused I suppose by living in a litigous society such as the USA.

Really, these planes have been flying with the old wiring loom for ages, what are the odds the issue will reoccur on a plane in the next, say, 2 weeks? A normal cost-benefit analysis would say right this is serious, extra overnight engineers etc, but we will with the regulators OK take 2 weeks to do this job over the fleet.

All the time there are things flying around that aren't ideal, but I think the pendulum has swung too far towards zero risk.

I bet if these passengers and flight crew were offered the chance to travel if they agreed to after signing a waiver nad having read a reasonable blurb on the issue, 99% would do and the rest can have their money back with a smile.

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Old 9th Apr 2008, 12:41
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It's a 15 minute inspection from what I hear.. What a mess
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Old 9th Apr 2008, 13:09
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FAA Hardball!

The FAA has been getting a lot of flak recently about being too cosy with the big Airline Companies! I'd guess that they're making a point!

I'd agree with groundbum about the risk vs impact of immediate groundings to facilitate inspection and if required, rework. However, I think that the 99% figure for take up would be overstated, if the PAX were informed about the fire risk.

Obviously, American Airlines maintenance should have done the job right, first time. So, I hope that they learn a lesson - I imagine that the cost of this, both financially and in terms of bad PR will ensure that this is the case.
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Old 9th Apr 2008, 13:33
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Just wondering what's it like over here in Europe with MD80 operators....is maintenance better overlooked here since we don't hear anything from SAS,Alitalia,Spanair and alikes?
Or maybe the AD only affects N registered A/C?
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Old 9th Apr 2008, 13:41
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I'd guess that they're making a point!
My God what timing though.

US airlines are in a free-fall right now. The very landscape will be transformed by the new price of oil and the lack of available commercial credit.

It's hard not to think that this may be deliberate... brought to us by the Open Skies White House to soften up resistance.....
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Old 9th Apr 2008, 13:55
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she said. “I don’t understand how it could be OK yesterday but not OK today,”
Maybe the clue to the reason for not understanding is in the word "she".
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Old 9th Apr 2008, 14:22
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I agree that it's not as if they'll start to drop out of the sky tomorrow, but the problem is that you never know when it will happen, so you've got to take the precaution. However, I believe it's more important to teach AA the lesson. They save a few cents by not doing it right the 1st time, now they're loosing big bucks trying to fix the situation. Hopefully other carriers are paying attention...
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Old 9th Apr 2008, 15:00
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Wall Street Journal "breaking news"

"American Airlines has canceled 850 flights today, due to continued MD-80 reinspections. Full article coming soon."


Last edited by Eboy; 9th Apr 2008 at 15:01. Reason: add link
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Old 9th Apr 2008, 17:43
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So over the last few years the engineers from the US airlines have demanded that maintenance checks are not sent to MROs overseas, this because of fears of losing their jobs and they say poor workmanship.
So AA does its maintenance in house but seems not to be able to follow an AD written in their own tongue, l say that because they are sure as not written in English, as anyone who has read FAA ADs over the years will know what l mean.
So are all the engineers in the US going to apologise to the rest of the world and admit they are not so hot.

Standby for incoming.
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Old 9th Apr 2008, 19:41
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CNN has a story today about AA problems with the MD-80 landing gear, and specifically the problems that arose on an AA MD-80 flight out of KMSP last December.

The American Airlines pilot says the plane's nose gear would not retract and he quickly began circling the Minnesota airport. But freezing temperatures and icy precipitation started to create problems inside the plane, Mayer says.

"Our windshield started to cover with ice from the bottom working its way up," he says.

"As we were running the emergency procedures, there was a pop. Everyone's ears blew out. We realized that we had lost the pressurization of the aircraft at that time."

Within minutes, Mayer managed to bring the airplane safely back to the airport. But when he inspected the exterior of the aircraft, he says the MD-80 jetliner looked like a "popsicle." The malfunctioning nose gear disabled the plane's anti-icing systems, according to Mayer, who says the wings and tail of the plane were freezing over.
This malfunction was probably unrelated to the wire bundles, but it illustrates how the media can take one dire situation and apply it generally.

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Old 9th Apr 2008, 19:47
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The air/ground switch failed, and the default is the ground position.

Therefore the anti-ice was disabled.

Good damn thing they hadn't armed the spoilers yet, or they would have deployed to the ground position. Valujet had that happen once.

Last edited by Huck; 9th Apr 2008 at 21:00.
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Old 9th Apr 2008, 19:52
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AP now quoting more than 1000 flights canceled today.
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Old 9th Apr 2008, 20:27
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Sometimes I wonder why anyone bothers.

The French have trains running right now that can do SF to LA in two hours more or less. With all due respect to my colleagues in Monterey, San Luis Obispo and SB, there is nothing to stop such a train between SF and LA.

It's comfortable, you can spread out in it no matter what your weight, and you can open your laptop to its fullest extent, plug it in, and work the entire time, without being disturbed by or disturbing your neighbor. And without having to take your shoes off, or remove your nipple rings, before boarding.

As far as I see, the only weaknesses are (a) nobody thinks like that, and (b) LA has no particular center to which it would make sense to bring such a train (somewhat different to the situation in the 1930's).

Sorry, forgot one weakness. The sorry history of the Acela service (assuming that everyone else thinks they have to do as badly. Some people might conclude that there is only one thing less customer friendly than a US airline, and that is a US train service.

These are either the ravings of a mental midget, or of somebody thinking outside of the weirdly constrained US box (not that it's hard). Take your pick.

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Old 9th Apr 2008, 21:17
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FAA inspectors

The FAA is all over the place now. In just one trip me and my captain were observed twice by FAA inspectors. In addition, they looked over all our paperwork and inspected the aircraft. A lot of pilots do not like to have the FAA behind their neck but I actually like it. It definitely forces companies to keep an industry standard.
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