Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Respect Your Elders

When I first got hired at SWA we were flying 737-200s and -300s. The 200s were old and they had a lot of issues. I for one was simply excited to work on ANY airliner at the time. Within 3 years time we had started to phase out the 200s so I did not really get a chance to get tired of working on them.

These days at SWA we fly 737-300s, -700s, and -800s. The 300s are getting old. Maybe old is the wrong term, more like worn out. We have the highest aircraft utilization, in terms of hours/day, of any airline out there. The planes are mostly 80s and 90s vintage 737s and they are simply used up.

When a typical mechanic shows up at work we look at the job board and sometimes when we find out we are working one of these older planes we cringe. "Not another old beast." I admit that I myself have had those days when I get assigned a 300 and I think "this thing is going to be falling apart."

My buddy SkyWalker is the exact opposite-he gets a 700 and he thinks, "what a bunch of relays and circuits." SkyWalker likes the older mechanical jets. Planes like 727s and the older 737s are just his cup of tea.

I have been looking at the older planes, recently, as older friends or older family members. These old warriors deserve our respect. There have been times when we have had battles and cursed them and even hit them with hammers in frustration. These planes have made us lay down in puddles in the rain, burned our arms while trying to pry out their PRSOVs, cut us, and even knocked some of us out cold. The leaks that only show up during high power runs, the L1 and L2 windows that would not see themselfs removed, the Rudder PCUs that needed to be RR'd in ALL types of weather and any times of the day.

The one thing that I try to remember is that the 300s have done all those things to me and those working with me BUT they also kept me and my family feed and clothed, they put money in my pocket and for many of us have provided the ONLY stable job we have had in the airline business.

These planes deserve a little respect from us. They are worn out that much is true,but day in and day out they go out and do their thing. They may be old and worn but I still feel bad when they are cut up and scrapped.

Check out these links regarding some of my old friends who will not be taking to the skies any more.

Aircraft 504
Not AC 504 but a pic of AC 501

Aircraft 351
Pic: ITSParts

Aircraft 692
Pic: ITSParts
And the list goes on.....

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Power Of The Internet!!

We at work have been using a "web based" maintenance manual for some time now and we are transitioning to a new one as we speak. These programs hold a lot of promise for the future of our industry but are not quite "the end all be all" yet.

I have found that there are a few great web sites out there that are 737 related and one in particular that offers some really good troubleshooting tips. It's kind of a grey area in that we are all trained to use the maintenance manuals exclusively. I guess what I am saying is these sites are REALLY helpful but they are still just "reference only" material.

The best of the bunch is "Sjap's 737 maintenance experience exchange". On this site there are plenty of helpful hints from mechanics all over who have run into issues and were nice enough to share them here.

Is there a reason we should not use all available resources to make us better mechanics? We all have little tricks that we have learned over the years to help us in our troubleshooting. Sjap's site is one of the tools that the Internet has brought to us and it is in my virtual toolbox (actually it's in my "bookmarks").