The Captain of a commercial aircraft has a responsibility to determine the airworthiness of that vehicle before it departs. The above two articles relate the details of the recent efforts of American Airlines’ pilots and their union, APA, to impact the airline’s schedules by exercising that privilege. For the week starting September 17, AA had to cancel 1.25% of their flights.
The APA release listed some of the problems identified by its members:
• A left engine generator failed in flight
• An aircraft sustained a lightning strike
• The ground proximity warning system failed in flight
• A partial flight control failure
• Weather radar test inoperative
• A fuel leak on right wing main tank
• The left landing light was damaged
• A wind shear warning failure
• A brake anti-skid failure
• The engine start valve failed to close
While each and every maintenance log entry by a pilot deserves serious examination by the company’s mechanics, the above list does not signify that the sky is falling. In a sample of 2,400 flights, it is not unusual that the above 10 problems were identified. What is an aberration is the spike in reported problems. If these were systematic problems with the company’s maintenance program, these pilot logbook entries should have been recorded for months, if not longer.
The source of this problem is obviously the unpleasant confrontation between APA and airline management in bankruptcy court. The transfer of that economic battle to the context of aviation safety is inappropriate. These accusations will weaken the credibility of pilot communications to the maintenance organization and may well create panic among consumers. Management and the unions need to address their economic issues outside of the cockpit.Share this article: