Monday, August 16, 2010

ASAP Questions About It's Fairness

We all know about the ASAP program that the FAA implemented a few years ago. Recently, although the spirit of the program is such that it keeps mechanics from getting in trouble, the ASAP "Committee" has denied some ASAP reports. I know of some people who do not even file any more because of the predatory nature of how the FAA has been dealing with them.

I myself have not filed an ASAP report and I do not think that the ASAP program is doing the job that it was intended to do.

Recently Comair Machinists have elected to withdraw from the ASAP program stating that they "no longer have faith that the program will ever be managed according to regulations." This comes after Comair disciplined mechanics after they filed ASAP reports.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

JetBlue Flight Attendant Goes Bananas!!! Our Industry Is Fighting Back

I'm sure most everyone has heard of Steven Slater by now. Steven Slater is the JetBlue flight attendant who had a break down on Monday and basically told the flying public what they could do with themselves. There is no excuse for some of his behavior, however, the flying public does take some liberties when it comes to flying and airline employees.

My blog is about airline maintenance, but being a line mechanic I have seen the ugly side of the flying public that made Steven Slater snap on Monday. The JetBlue flight attendant is likely similar to any of us airline employees: over worked and underpaid. The industry is not the glamor job that it may have been in the sixties or seventies.

Steven Slater was up against then same thing that a lot of us are: spoiled people who cannot seem to bend a little or even want to follow rules. I have witnessed arguments over seats, people who suddenly revert back to high school when they get into an airplane with the "he is looking at me funny" garbage. I have broken up actual fist throwing fights that erupt inside airplanes and have had to explain to adults that they could get arrested because they won't comply with the flight attendants requests. When people get into airplanes they turn into spoiled children.

I understand that flying costs a lot of money and you are entitled to a certain level of service when you pay that much money for a flight. That said you are not allowed to ignore and belittle the folks that work for the airline and who are there for your safety.

What Steven Slater did was beyond the reaction that should have occurred and for that he paid the price. He got arrested, will lose his job (not good these days). But Steven Slater did something that most of us airline folks cannot do, he spoke up and in doing so he became an instant working class hero.

The next time you are flying watch what the public does. The cell phones stay on, people won't sit down, they don't fasten their seat belts, put their seat backs up, or their tray tables up when told, but they pay our bills. Our society is built on being able to take liberties and have freedom. The problem comes when rules are imposed on us that go against those liberties. People have to learn to chillax as my kids say. Stop being so uptight and remember those people serving you drinks, making your beds in the hotels, taking your orders at the fast food joint, keeping you safe in the sky, are all trying to make a living. We in the airlines know that the front line employees, the flight attendants, customer service folks, the people working the ticket counters, have the hardest jobs. We mechanics, pilots, rampers, etc do not have to deal with people who may be having bad days themselves. I appreciate the flight attendants and all the airline folks who keep us going day in and day out. With out them putting up with all the daily crap the airlines would grind to a halt.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

This is a beautiful old bird! The Lockheed Constellation was designed in an era when not all planes looked the same. She looks like she is going 200mph just sitting on the ground. These mechanics are lucky to have worked on such a graceful beast. I'm sure they were not thinking that at the time but it is true.

Check out this picture! Look at the stand the mechanic is using to access the top of the Connie's engine. No safety railings. Check out the shoe that guy is wearing and his helper up on top is not wearing any fall arrest equipment. How did they ever do it?

A little background: The Constellation first went into service in 1945 with TWA. The design began back in the thirties and a few were finished in time to see some service at the end of WWII. Howard Hughes is rumored to have been heavily involved in the design of the plane. The elegant shape of the fuselage is due to the fact that no two frames are the same from the front of the plane to the back. While this resulted in an eye pleasing shape it was very expensive to manufacture that way and maintenance of the fuselage was also cost prohibitive. After the Connie all planes were made with uniform tube shaped fuselages.

There were 856 Constellation built and they were operated by quite a few big airlines. The Connie was the last of the big four engine piston airliners and was a victim of the quickly growing jet-age.

Early on in its life the Connie was plagued by engine fires. The Wright R-3350, an 18 cylinder radial, was a developmental nightmare, but eventually they got all the kinks worked out.

The Connie broke several records during it's time and still holds the record for the longest-duration non-stop passenger flight a 23 hour and 19 minute event during TWA's inaugural London to San Francisco flight on Oct 1-2, 1957.

A Connie also gave Orville Wright his last flight more than 40 years after his historic flight.

There will never be another like it and that is okay with me since it will stay unique.