Top Letters And Comments, September 1, 2023

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FAA Concerned Lightning Could Cause 777 Explosions

It is quite a challenge to try and put this sort of problem in proper perspective for the “Monday Morning cockpit crowd” without sounding callous. Actually, airline maintenance personnel perform dozens of tasks on a repetitive basis, similar to tasks associated with this fastener, to “inspect and correct” conditions that otherwise would threaten safe operation. A problem does not rise to the level of an AD if it does not present a safety issue. My “business as usual” attitude here is not intended to make light of any maintenance task, but rather to point out that every single night in airline hangars across the country, such tasks are being repeated on hundreds of airframes.

I do remember making light of some of our “professional pilots” as a line mechanic, but the reality is that both the pilot and the mechanic often address potentially life-threatening issues in their normal course of work. The importance of understanding how critical the responsibilities of each profession are as we face people shortages at the airlines is borne out by articles like this one – in spite of the huge pay differential experienced between the two positions.

Discussions on this topic used to break-out all the time at work. I once told one of our pilots that without him or some other pilot, the plane was not going anywhere, but without me and my fellow wrenches, it might not be coming back. It might be a team effort, but the quarterbacks are getting all the money and the credit.

John C.

FAA Issues Ground Crew Safety Alert

Sometime obvious isn’t to everyone. Like how I was introduced to a reason why you shouldn’t use the wing of an acft being towed to stay dry.

As a young duty officer, a sailor came running to the duty desk about a “gear collapse” on a Prowler being towed. Ran down and sure enough there it sat on its right wingtip. Wing walker was a bit shook up, but fortunately a rare day it wasn’t raining in the NW, so she wasn’t walking under it.

Turns out the gear was fine, it just happened to roll over a street-rated manhole cover the public works knuckleheads placed there instead of one meant for the ramp…which failed when the single wheel main punched thru. Fire Dept had a harder time removing said main from manhole.

The Prowler? after being freed up, it went up on jacks, was checked over and paint was touched up. Grumman Iron Works.

Rich R.

While the FAA directed the safety alert to the airlines, a large amount of the ground personnel are supplied by contractors. I hope they get the right training for this.

Beverly C.

FAA Wants To Close Airline/Charter Loophole

Yes, safety is about culture and training, but also so much more. Safety is also about seasoning. So by definition it is also about how many hours pilots have. Even 1200 hours, and I agree, outside of the pattern, is piddles when it comes to seasoning. Seasoning for commercial standards is about having dealt with malfunctions, with ice, having deviated around thunderstorms, having coped with low visibility, and all the above and more at night for more than one 12-month cycle.

Keeping the standards high may mean bringing on the pilot shortages. We may as a society someday actually have to return to the reality that airline flying is an expensive luxury, not the cheap, life sustaining staple necessity which we regard it to be today. That may mean that some families may actually need to drive instead of fly to Disney venues, and some middle school kids in some of our home towns may actually not get to go to Europe or even across the entire U.S. for athletic competitions.

John K.

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