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New Delays Loom as F.A.A. Expands Airliner Review

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New Delays Loom as F.A.A. Expands Airliner Review

Old 10th Apr 2008, 12:37
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New Delays Loom as F.A.A. Expands Airliner Review

From the New York Times
Beginning to look a bit serious.
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Old 10th Apr 2008, 15:55
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agreed

it is starting to turn into a full blown scandal. what will be next. any ideas??????
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Old 10th Apr 2008, 17:06
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This started last month when Southwest was fined for flying planes that missed inspections. Congress started bashing the FAA and airlines, led by democrat Representative James Oberstar. Now the FAA is flexing its muscles to show it does not march in lock-step with the industry. Since this is an election year, look to Congress, which is starting to get bashed by flying constituents, to start bashing the FAA about flexing its muscles in an overreaching manner, resulting in some return toward normalcy.

Question: When was the last maintenance-related commercial plane crash in the U.S.?
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Old 10th Apr 2008, 17:14
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I'm Guessing (Feb. 1, 2001)

Alaskan MD80. Uncontrolled descent into the ocean. Unlubricated and Uninspected stripped jackscrew. Jammed elevator full up, unrecoverable stall.

Last edited by airfoilmod; 10th Apr 2008 at 17:21. Reason: add date
 
Old 10th Apr 2008, 17:22
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hmmmmmmm?

MD-80

maybe they should keep an eye on that one!
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Old 10th Apr 2008, 17:34
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Not sure, but these were more recent.

When was the last maintenance-related commercial plane crash in the U.S.?
status:

Final Date:08 JAN 2003
Time:08:49
Type:Beechcraft 1900D
Operator:US Airways Express / Air Midwest
Registration: N233YV C/n /
msn: UE-233 First flight: 1996 Total airframe hrs:15003 Cycles:21332 Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67D
Crew:Fatalities: 2 /
Occupants: 2 Passengers:
Fatalities: 19 / Occupants: 19
Total:Fatalities: 21 / Occupants: 21
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Location: Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, NC (CLT)Phase: Takeoff Nature: Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, NC (CLT/KCLT), United States of America
Destination airport:Greenville-Spartanburg Airport, SC (GSP/KGSP), United States of America
Flightnumber:5481

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The airplane’s loss of pitch control during takeoff. The loss of pitch control resulted from the incorrect rigging of the elevator control system compounded by the airplane’s aft center of gravity, which was substantially aft of the certified aft limit. Contributing to the cause of the accident was: (1) Air Midwest’s lack of oversight of the work being performed at the Huntington, West Virginia, maintenance station; (2) Air Midwest’s maintenance procedures and documentation; (3) Air Midwest’s weight and balance program at the time of the accident; (4) the Raytheon Aerospace quality assurance inspector’s failure to detect the incorrect rigging of the elevator system; (5) the FAA’s average weight assumptions in its weight and balance program guidance at the time of the accident; and (6) the FAA’s lack of oversight of Air Midwest’s maintenance program and its weight and balance program."


status:
Final Date:26 AUG 2003
Time:15:40 Type:Beechcraft 1900D
Operator:US Airways Express / Colgan Air
Registration: N240CJ C/n /
msn: UE-40
First flight: 1993
Total airframe hrs:16503 Cycles:24637 Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67D
Crew:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Total:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Airplane damage: Destroyed Location:5 km (3.1 mls) S of Hyannis, MA Phase: En route Nature:Ferry/positioning
Departure airport:Hyannis-Barnstable Airport, MA (HYA/KHYA), United States of America
Destination airport:Albany Airport, NY (ALB/KALB), United States of America Flightnumber:9446

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The improper replacement of the forward elevator trim cable, and subsequent inadequate functional check of the maintenance performed, which resulted in a reversal of the elevator trim system and a loss of control in-flight. Factors were the flightcrew's failure to follow the checklist procedures, and the aircraft manufacturer's erroneous depiction of the elevator trim drum in the maintenance manual."
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Old 11th Apr 2008, 01:56
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The Big Picture

Whatever skullduggery has led to the noncompliance-related groundings, and catch-up inspection & maintenance, the massive flight delays and cancellations have the unintended side-effect of REDUCING travel safety.

Think about it: How many thousands of travelers have decided to drive to their destinations rather than wait for a flight? Here in the colonies, the highway death rate per million passenger miles is several orders of magnitude WORSE than commercial air travel, whatever its shortcomings.

I'm sure someone can & will come up with a number for additional deaths (in)directly related to cancelled flights.
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Old 11th Apr 2008, 03:49
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The wrong picture

Think about it: How many thousands of travelers have decided to drive to their destinations rather than wait for a flight? Here in the colonies, the highway death rate per million passenger miles is several orders of magnitude WORSE than commercial air travel, whatever its shortcomings.
With all due respect, you're joking, right? Everybody should know, especially on this forum, that on a per-passenger-trip basis, flying is not the safest mode of transport. Since driving has a much higher distance component in its risk factor, there is a crossover point. For trips shorter than about 300 to 400 miles, driving is safer overall. For trips longer than 500 to 600 miles, flying is.
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Old 11th Apr 2008, 04:09
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And the source of your statistics would be...
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Old 11th Apr 2008, 08:00
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http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?e...12X00305&key=1
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Old 11th Apr 2008, 18:07
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Hardly

"Crash?" Hardly. Incident. Contract Maintenance. No serious injuries, Aircraft undamaged. New Tire? (ref Jackson Hole)

Last edited by airfoilmod; 11th Apr 2008 at 18:50.
 
Old 11th Apr 2008, 20:16
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Are they only going to be picking on MD80s or will we be getting mass groundings by aircraft type over the next few months?
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Old 11th Apr 2008, 20:46
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Perspective

I think it would depend on one's point of view. If the "FAA as vengeful" folks are seeing it, picking on a very ubiquitous type (MD80 and 737) that would have the most impact on air travel fits their conclusion. Hence the bigger "statement" re: ego and power. The inspections seem borderline "picky" to me, so I don't have a firm opinion, yet. I tend toward a political explanation, though.
 
Old 12th Apr 2008, 00:27
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This needs to be sorted out in public. Guessing at who did or did not do what and for what reason is not very satisfying to the thousands of passengers affected.

What a shame on aviation to be exposed like this to their customers.

All I have heard so far is from the CEO of the airline and Nada from the FAA. I've read the AD and it seems pretty straight forward in achivieng a return to the original level of safety presumed when the plane was delivered. It even cites a cost of about $1000 per aircraft to bring it into compliance and of course the operators have used resources in a first attempt to meet the AD.

To me, just the fact that they had to examine the wire bundles goes a long way towards meeting the safety intent by assuring that the wires are not damaged. Yet by admission of the AA CEO they didn't get the spacing perfect when they relaced the wires.

The worst I can infer from this would be that the presumed reduced level of wear out of the wires was not fully acchieved.

OK, so to me that means you go back and revisit the maintenance action again... but not immediately before the next flight

So who in hell decided that they needed to put the aircraft on the ground and to hell with the repercussions to the people who had bought tickets and planned on a normal travel day.

Safety has a price, it's measurable both in the reduction of risk and in the cost to achieve this reduction.

To me all that was needed to be done was for AA to submit an AMOC (Alternate Means of Compliance) and continue flying for an agreed amount of time until they could revisit their work in this area at a schedule maintenance visit. Redoing this work in an emergency fashion is now more likely to introduce a human error element and screw something else up that could be serious.

What have we broken?

Where are the safety professionals in all this?

If we relegate the regulator to bean counting then God help us.
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Old 12th Apr 2008, 03:11
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With all due respect, you're joking, right? Everybody should know, especially on this forum, that on a per-passenger-trip basis, flying is not the safest mode of transport.
Surely I am not joking. While the precise parameters are not specified here, the message seems pretty clear.
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Old 12th Apr 2008, 03:26
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Remember the FAA was hugely embarrassed by the SWA inspection fiasco, so the let the government overreaction begin. Sen. Oberstar starts screaming at the FAA who has to do some serious willy-waving in order to establish credibility. Result: Ground airplanes, now! Regardless of how trivial the problem. No doubt, AA and the MD-80 has some maintenance issues, but grounding in these numbers and the resulting havoc, I doubt it was necessary. After all, 6 years without a major airline having a hull loss (and only the one CRJ at LEX), the industry is hardly a public danger.

GF
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Old 13th Apr 2008, 02:37
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Surely I am not joking. While the precise parameters are not specified here, the message seems pretty clear.
Oh, but that is propaganda; it is just as "useful" as this propaganda. What I meant was real research, like published in "Risk Analysis". One such article is by Evans & al., 1990, "Is It Safer to Fly or Drive?", pp. 239–246; another is by Sivak & al., 1991, "Nonstop Flying Is Safer Than Driving", pp. 145–148. Here is the abstract of the second (which includes the conclusions of the first):
The relative safety of driving and flying is important in many situations that involve selecting a mode of transportation. The traditional view, that flying via scheduled airlines is safer than driving, has recently been challenged by Evans et al.(1) They concluded that for a low-risk driver it is safer to drive on rural interstate highways (the safest roads) than to fly if the trip length is less than 602 miles. We reestimated the fatality probabilities for flying by taking into account that the risk of flying is dependent on the number of nonstop segments flown, but, for all practical purposes, is independent of the length of the trip. Our calculations indicate that, for average or high-risk drivers, it is always safer to fly than to drive. Furthermore, even for a low-risk driver, nonstop flying is safer than driving on rural interstate highways for a trip distance of more than 303 miles; the corresponding breakeven distances for flights that involve two and three segments are 606 and 909 miles, respectively.
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Old 13th Apr 2008, 20:06
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Well, well, well:

Are we talking great circle distances here? Road miles are invariably 20-40% greater than air miles, and how often do you have to leave the interstates to reach your destination? I doubt that these studies explore all the variables.

Is there some segment in which driving is safer than commercial air? I'm sure there is, but I'm also sure it's not LAX-HNL.
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Old 13th Apr 2008, 22:49
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The problem all regulators face is well known, it's called "regulatory capture" - where the regulators and regulated get too palsy walsy. This can occur as a result of shared backgrounds (eg: ex air force/airline), perceived job opportunities, or straight out graft. It's not just an airline thing either.

From what I've read, Southwest had an "in" with senior FAA managers for some reason, and said managers refused to support their junior inspectors in getting Southwest to comply.

Of course, having had it's knuckles rapped for this behaviour, the FAA is now complying visibly with the letter of the law, and the junior staff whose concerns have been ignored, perhaps for years, now have to be listened too - and the juniors are bent on making right all those things that they have been successfully pressured to ignore for so long.

That's my take on it anyway, but look on the bright side, it didn't take a smoking hole in the ground to make it happen.
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Old 14th Apr 2008, 05:52
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> Yet by admission of the AA CEO they didn't get the spacing perfect
> when they relaced the wires.

Has this been confirmed as the worst problem found?

I gather from reading that the wires are for a backup hydraulic system, so aren't carrying current except after a main system failure -- and that this area is one where hydraulic fluid can accumulate --- using my fallible logic in the absence of facts, then does it make sense that the wire ties, and the wires, would be visibly dirty, so it would be obvious whether the work had been done (wire bundle untied, inspected, and reattached using new wire ties, just not close enough together)?

My worst case would be to guess the inspectors of those nine aircraft found reason to think the wires were just looked at and ignored.

Just asking -- they do have to take off the wire ties to check for cracks in the insulation, to find anything that could cause a spark, right?
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