Monday, April 18, 2011

Questions Of The Month

Imagine paying a group of people to troubleshoot, diagnose, and fix a problem but then requiring them to call you EVERY time they change a part to get your blessing on putting the correct part in. Why would you not just pay some non-skilled person to describe the problem to you and change the part you want them too? What does this do to the employee? How can it be fixed?

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Series Of Unfortunate Events

These past few weeks at Southwest Airlines have been very busy. The incident we had with a lap joint on top of the fuselage of one of our 737-300s has been well documented by the media. Planes have been inspected, inspection methods have been changed and we all have been educated by this unfortunate event. Of course if any of you mechanics out there are like me I had to answer to an even higher authority than the FAA-my father.

As soon as I heard about the airplane I knew that I would be getting a call from my father very soon. My father also went to Aviation High School in NY. Although he never got to use his licence he did spend his working career in maintenance working for the NYC Transit Authority, rising through the ranks eventually to become the first black supervisor of the Structures Division in the Transit Authority. As you can imagine he had some questions for me regarding exactly what was going on at SWA Maintenance. He did call and we discussed the whole aging aircraft thing and that was that.

Being a mechanically minded fellow he handily understood most of my airline jargon while I jabbered away about lap joints, aircraft cycles, etc. This has been going on for my whole career, any incident that Delta Airlines had while I worked there was discussed. Any kind of cargo carrier that had mechanical issues while I worked at Ameriflight was cause for a call and discussion. As a matter of fact any plane incident can spur on these types of calls. While these unfortunate events are not something that any mechanic hopes to see they are a reality of our industry. My fathers calls help me to keep in the forefront of my mind that my family flies on these planes that I work on. I like most mechanics know that if we do not stay sharp and perform to the utmost of our abilities that bad things can happen. When I first started at SWA and was a little unsure of my self I asked one of the "vets" if he thought I should change a tire or not. This guy was a wise, older gentleman and he said that any time he is not sure about working on something or not he just thinks "would I feel ok if my wife and kids got on this plane in the morning and I had not changed that part." That was all it took for me.

These calls from my relatives (mostly my dad) remind me that the job I do is a very important one. The job we do is not easy, the job requires us to say no a lot and disappoint and inconvenience travellers now and then. Sometimes we are heroes but a lot of times we come off as the bad guys. That is simply the nature of the business. I love my job and I love working at Southwest Airlines there are people I work with that can not honestly say those things. Those people can make it harder for the others but no matter where you go you will find those types of people. I hope to never see something like this last incident happen to ANY AIRLINE but it is especially rotten for it to happen to MY airline. Southwest Airlines have the best maintained airplanes in the industry and we will remedy this issue.