Friday, September 21, 2012

The 737-800 Finally Routed Through OAK!

We have been preparing for months now and it seems like OAK is the last station to get a regularly scheduled line for the 800 but it has finally arrived. Once a day from OAK to DEN. The first one came in on a Sunday and it was met by all the enthusiastic employees taking pictures etc. This kind of surprised me since we had the plane come through once before as a diversion from SFO. I thought maybe the fanfare would die down but it did not.

The mechanics were (of course) not all that happy but we did go out and meet the plane. In addition to the new plane we at SWA are switching to TRAX for our maintenance software program. The TRAX system has been, how should I put this..........problematic. The system itself is supposed to be better than the old one we are used to (WIZARD) and how could it not. WIZARD is a DOS based program but we have been using it for so long that we all know how to move around in it and it makes sense to us. This TRAX thing is a WINDOW based program and it operates as such. You would think that it would be easy to use but it's not.

One TRAX write up can take as long as one hour to input into the damn thing! The mechanics have been slowly using TRAX as our older -700s are switched over to the system. Each night we get one or two TRAX planes to work, but the paperwork as far as entering into the computer seems like a nightmare. Make a long story short-we dread having ANY write ups on TRAX planes.

The -800 came into gate 30 so I along with a few other mechanics walked over to check her out. All the rampers, ops, csa's were busy snapping photos of the plane and we mechanics went right over to the wheel well and did our oohs and ahhs. Pointing out the little differences here and there we noticed the larger hyd return filters and the difference in the main wheels. I also opened the E/E bay and peeked around, not much changed. When I opened the forward E/E door I was amazed by the size of the weather radar RT. The old RT (Receiver/Transmitter) was a big black box about the same size as an IRU unit, lets say 15" x 15" and weighs about 25lbs. The new box is a standard small smart box, about 3" x 15" and it has to weigh less than 5lbs.

Going up stairs the interior is beautiful!! I really like the "Sky" interior although I have heard that the materials that make it up are not standing up to the beating our passengers put it through. Of course while I'm poking about I hear over the radio that the captain on gate 30 has a write up she wants to talk to us about.

Immediately I'm thinking "great, this thing may be down for this stupid write-up". All our TRAX planes that have write-ups have to be signed off, and the paperwork (log page) entered into the computer before the plane can be dispatched. The release for the plane is locked until the computer work is done. As I stated earlier it takes forever to input these things into the system.

When I got to the flight deck the captain tells me she had an overspeed and that she wrote it up. Then she tells me that there is an open write up in the book from the last flight crew about the same thing!

Now I'm almost in a panic! Two write-ups on a TRAX plane which by the way is also an ETOPS plane, one of which is an open write-up! I called MX-CTRL and they told me the overspeeds on the -800s are a nuisance fault and I could sign it off as 'Info noted by MX".

I immediately brought the pages back to the office and handed them to the Foreman. He immediately got on the phone to find out how to enter the log pages into TRAX. Luckily he got back to me and said that the "INFO ONLY" write-ups don't need to be entered-PHEW!

I think we will work out our issues with TRAX and to be honest the -800 does not scare me as much anymore. The -800 is the future of SWA, as well as the 737 MAX, and the sooner I get used to it the better.