Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Day The Hits Just Kept on Coming!

It started off as a normal day: Oil calls, tray table latches, some minor avionics issues. Then, suddenly the tide started to change:

We got a call to look at a First Officer R2 window. The pilot was complaining that the window was "hazed". The mechanic decided to change the window which is only a 10 min job. The trouble started when the "H-Number" on the window which was removed did not match the H-Number of the window being installed.

Typical 737 Flt Deck windows (swa corp security safe pic)

This is a normal situation and as some of you know when these number do not match we have to change the wire position on a terminal block behind the window heat controllers which are located in the E/E Bay (in the belly of the beast).

This job used to be a simple annoyance: remove the window heat controller(s) so you can see the terminal strip, remove the wire and place it onto the correctly number terminal. Of course that is how you would do it on a 737-300 or "Classic" model airplane.

window heat controller (got this pic off ebay-scary) (swa corp security safe pic)

Boeing in its infinite wisdom decided to relocate this terminal strip on the 737-700 or Next-Gen aircraft. This strip is now located behind the forward wall on the forward cargo compartment. Keep in mind that in this instance we are working on a "live flight". This plane has passengers who are trying to get places. When the plane has passengers it will also have luggage. Where do we keep the luggage?-Forward cargo compartment.

So the mechanic had to troubleshoot to a point where he decided to change the window, make sure we had a window in stock, get the window in, and change the "taps" to the correct terminal spot. What do you think happened while he was troubleshooting and changing the window?

Terminal block similar to the one I'm talking about (swa corp security safe pic)

You guessed it, the rampers loaded the luggage into the forward cargo pit. So now he has to explain to the rampers that he needs the bags removed so he can access the wall, take the wall down, and do what he needs to do. Usually this is not a problem but lets face it the rampers are not too keen on unloading the bags they just loaded and it takes time.

So now we are on delay. In about 10-15 mins the mechanic has created a luggage hole or cave big enough to get to the wall.

The wall is now off but just to make sure you really want to accomplish this task Boeing decided to hide this terminal strip behind an angled structural piece which holds said wall up. To reach it you do it blind, once you can establish you are one the correct terminal strip.

These are the things that drive mechanics crazy. New plane-it should be designed in a way to help us do our jobs easier.

That's not the end of that story either. Once done and about 40 mins into a delay there was a problem with the new window (paperwork type problem) which almost required the mechanic to put the old window back in place doing this whole dance over again! In the end the paperwork question was cleared up but only after another hour was wasted by calling Engineering and all the important people in Dallas.

The next hit to us was self inflicted (by flight crew). The entry door got stuck on the jet bridge extendable canopy. Happens all the time. The OPS people usually will call MX and we can easily unstick it. This time the Captain did not want to call us, he told the OPS person to just move the jet bridge back.

L-1 Door (swa corp security safe pic)

The jet bridge moved back and the hinge and guide arm on the door got all bent up. I've changed guide arms and usually it can be done in about an hour but that hinge (hinge plate actually) is another story. We grounded the plane and I and another Mechanic worked on it for the rest of the shift. It turns out that to replace these hinge plates the door has to be removed from the plane! Last time I removed a door form an airliner was way back in my Delta Airlines days.

We get off shift at 10pm and as a cherry on top of our great day two planes struck winglet to winglet right around 9:30pm. The airplane gods were not happy that day! The only silver lining was that none of the "Damage Events" (sounds like a movie on SciFi Channel) were caused by maintenance.

Winglet (swa corp security safe pic)