7
   

Are you considering boycotting Southwest Airlines?

 
 
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 01:02 pm
Quote:
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla (Reuters) – National safety inspectors have found evidence of "widespread cracking" and fatigue on the fuselage of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 that made an emergency landing in Arizona with a hole in the cabin, a government official said on Sunday.
"Was the aircraft well maintained and should it have been maintained better? That is exactly why we are here, to look at why this problem occurred," National Transportation Safety Board Member Robert Sumwalt said at a press conference broadcast from Yuma, Arizona via Internet streaming.
As a result of the incident, Southwest has grounded part of its fleet for inspections.


http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/us_nm/us_airlines_southwest

Those who know their history know that a few years ago this company was caught and fined for buying off the FAA inspectors who were supposed to be watching them. This airline also pounds on its aircraft everyday with fast turn around times and long days of use for each aircraft. They also have a culture that is highly sensitive to avoiding any cost that can be avoided.

and we also had this
Quote:
Discount air carrier Southwest Airlines flew thousands of passengers on aircraft that federal inspectors said were "unsafe" as recently as last March, according to detailed congressional documents obtained by CNN.

Documents submitted by Federal Aviation Administration inspectors to congressional investigators allege the airline flew at least 117 of its planes in violation of mandatory safety checks.

In some cases, the documents say, the planes flew for 30 months after government inspection deadlines had passed and should have been grounded until the inspections could be completed
http://articles.cnn.com/2008-03-06/us/southwest.planes_1_administrator-for-aviation-safety-faa-managers-faa-safety-inspectors?_s=PM:US

I have only used them twice, but I am thinking never again.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 7 • Views: 4,342 • Replies: 28
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djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 01:08 pm
@hawkeye10,
i flew to BC when in high school, expect thats the only flight i'll ever make, so why not, consider them and every other airline boycotted
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 01:18 pm
@djjd62,
This is not the first time that we have been around the block with this company. If we find that they have not been doing their inspections, or that they have been doing them poorly, they need to get a meaningful fine this time. The last time they negotiated at $7.5 million fine (FAA wanted $10.2 million), but this time it should be around $50 million AND DONT ******* NEGOTIATE THIS!. Planes do not fall apart in mid flight if the inspections have been done right, we know what to look for and how often to look to prevent this from happening.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 01:19 pm
@hawkeye10,
I'm boycotting every airline subject to TSA intrusion. Same answer as dj, I suppose. Sometimes, I give up chewing tobacco for Lent.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 01:24 pm
@hawkeye10,
For reference the company earned $11 million last quarter, so a $50 million fine would hurt, as it should...

http://www.southwest.com/html/cs/investor_relations/if_quarterly_earnings.html
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 02:03 pm
@hawkeye10,
Not boycotting them...YET! All the facts are not in. I will not allow myself to be a 'prisoner-of-the-moment'.

While I have no sympathy at all for any lack-a-daisical safety or maint. skimpers, I feel Southwest right now is in the moment in media cross-hairs after this safety incident. Lucky for all concerned there were no deaths.

Before calling for a consumer boycott, it's wise to allow some perspective and let all the facts to surface.

I feel that the whole industry at times has been guilty of this sort of cost-cutting, depending on the economy. Many airlines in the past have been caught in the cross-hairs. As a result of investigations and bad press, some even went out of business. I don't need to search far or wide to find the names of other major and minor airlines who have had similar issues with various degrees of evasion.

This being said, I've no relative or friends that work for Southwest. I've flown them about a half dozen times and think their flight service is above avg and their on-time record is above avg (plus or mins 10 mins). This is an ugly incident and others are not exemplary, by any means; however, United, American, etc, have had their problems. They fly 737s too, do they not? Is Southwest's record with these planes far worse than industry avg?

"A total of 931 Boeing 737-300s are operated by all airlines worldwide, with 288 of them in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration said earlier."

However, the focus ALSO should be placed on our wonderful Federal gov't (FAA) as their record has bad in the more distant past keeping the skies safe. In some cases, FAA allows antiquated and overloaded Air Traffic Control equipment and over- whlemed Controllers. That is another place where I'd like to see the pressure applied.

However, I understand that in the recent years considering the quantity of airline miles have been high, airlines have had less fatalities than ever before.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 02:08 pm
@Ragman,
Quote:
Not boycotting them...YET! All the facts are not in.
We need the fact before we decide on a penalty for this incident, but there have been so many indications that this company is willing to sacrifice safety (and ignore regulatory mandates) for profit that we dont need to wait anymore to decide that they are willing to roll the dice with our lives.
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 02:12 pm
@hawkeye10,
Worldwide record of air traffic safety, in general:

" ... both 2009 and 2010 saw fewer registered accidents, 122 and 130, respectively. 2004 was the year with the lowest number of fatalities since the end of World War II, with 771 deaths. The year with most fatalities was 1972, with 3,214 deaths."


I am not ready to pass judgement YET on Southwest, but I will wait for all the facts to surface. My understanding of that particular plane is that it had major inspection (including major disassembly) in March.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 02:15 pm
@Ragman,
Quote:
My understanding of that particular plane is that it had major inspection (including major disassembly) in March.
That would be interesting, because the airlines have for the most part subcontracted this work out to low wage South American fly by night companies (the planes being flown down there for the work), and there has been great concern about the FAA's and the airlines willingness and ability to assure that the work is being done properly.
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 02:26 pm
@hawkeye10,
For the sake of discussion, I just did some admittedly skimpy reasearch (with an inferior resource for info). I see no outstanding safety issues specifcally or evidence of maintenance issues with airline industry fatality records as far as Southwest historic of use of Boeing 737-300 planes:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737-300#737-300


"Notable accidents and incidents involving the 737 Classics (-300/-400/-500)"
0 Replies
 
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 02:28 pm
@hawkeye10,
I have no knowledge of whether this plane had the sort of 3rd-party low wage subcontractor inspection. When and if it becomes evident that they're guilty of something I will howl the loudest and longest to hang 'em high.
BillRM
 
  0  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 03:10 pm
All restrooms on all US flag jets had have their emergency oxygen systems removed a few weeks ago.

This had been done under the theory by homeland security that such equipment could be used in a terrorists attack.

So anytime any of us fly we are now placing our lives at added risks during the time we are in such restrooms.

As the South West jet had shown it just a matter of time before someone in going to die or at least badly harm by this bullshit action.

0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  0  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 03:16 pm
US pulls emergency oxygen from airline toilets
(AFP) – Mar 11, 2011

WASHINGTON — A US and French move to disable emergency oxygen supplies in aircraft bathrooms as a security measure sparked objections Friday from French pilots and a US group who said it endangers passengers.

The US Federal Aviation Administration disclosed Thursday it had recently ordered US airlines to disable the chemical oxygen generators in the bathrooms "to eliminate a potential safety and security vulnerability."

The FAA said the airlines had already complied with the order, which was given quietly to avoid publicizing the potential vulnerability before it could be fixed.

"This proactive measure will help keep travelers as safe and secure as possible."

The concern was that the oxygen supply system in the toilet could be dismantled and employed in an attack on the passengers or aircraft.

The European Aviation Safety Agency said France was the only country in Europe to have implemented the same measure, and a French pilots group said Canada had done so as well.

The FAA said that work was ongoing to develop safer emergency oxygen systems for toilets, and in the meantime flight attendants were being asked to make checking toilets a priority whenever oxygen masks are deployed in the cabin.

"Rapid decompression events on commercial aircraft are extremely rare," the FAA said in a statement.

But on Friday French pilots said that passengers are now in danger if they are caught in aircraft bathrooms during a sudden loss of pressure in the aircraft cabin.

Without access to emergency oxygen, such passengers could pass out or even die, according to Yves Deshayes, spokesman of the main French pilots union, the SNPL.

"We criticize the fact that no other alternative mechanism has been established in case of depressurization," he said.

Kate Hanni of passengers advocate group FlyersRights.org accused the FAA of gambling that the problem would never come up.

"So, the FAA is calculating, in fact, that there will not be a decompression," she wrote on the group's website.

"If that's so, then heck, let's take all the oxygen systems out of aircraft. Think of the weight and fuel savings!"

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved. More »
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 03:30 pm
@Ragman,
Quote:
Some Southwest Airlines planes are headed south of the border for maintenance.
In a reversal of an earlier decision, the Dallas-based airline is moving ahead with plans to outsource some maintenance work to a company in El Salvador.
A spokesman for the airline, Paul Flanagan, confirmed the move Wednesday, and said Southwest pilots would ferry the first plane to San Salvador sometime in early July.
Last year, Southwest put off plans to use the Salvadoran company, as the airline dealt with the fallout from FAA fines for failing to perform maintenance checks on planes that continued to fly. The airline eventually agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle the dispute.
The FAA originally recommended more than $10 million in penalties.
Many U.S. airlines already outsource maintenance to foreign countries. The company Southwest will use in El Salvador, Aeroman, has already performed heavy maintenance work for other major U.S. Airlines.
But, unions and consumer groups have objected to outsourcing, questioning the safety and oversight of work performed outside of the U.S., where mechanics are paid less than their American counterparts.
Last year, BusinessWeek reported that mechanics at Aeroman make between $4,500 and $15,000 a year, while U.S. airplane mechanics earn an average of $52,000 a year.
Southwest said it's confident that its new foreign maintenance provider is well qualified for the job. "They pass all or our really stringent tests for safety. They have a great track record," Flanagan said
http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Southwest-Airlines-Will-Send-Planes-to-El-Salvador-For-Maintanence.html
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 03:35 pm
@hawkeye10,
Quote:
Southwest says quality and turn-times on the lead aircraft of a new line of Boeing 737s serviced by El Salvador-based Aeroman are thoroughly justifying the airline's decision to move work south of the US border. "The fact that aircraft are coming back in the condition they are, the span and the labour plan, has done nothing but support our position in the first place," says Gregg Brown, manager of airfield frame services for Southwest.
Aeroman started performing Y checks in a single maintenance line for Southwest inJuly and the third Boeing 737-300 is close to completion. Y checks are performed every two years. Brown says the carrier plans to have four lines in place by the end of 2010, the maximum allowed by its contract with the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, the union which represents Southwest mechanics. He says four lines at Aeroman will represent about 20% of Southwest's outsourced maintenance.
Moving the work to Aeroman, though beneficial from a labour cost standpoint, was a contentious issue with mechanics. Louie Key, national director of AMFA, says the carrier first approached the union two years ago and proposed that some "customarily performed" work be included in the "non-customarily performed" work proposed for Aeroman in order to maximize efficiency. The union contract at the time permitted only non-customarily performed work to be outsourced. "We were not excited about giving consent to that," says Key. The discussion also revealedwhat Key calls a "gross misunderstanding" of the definition of the two types of work between the union and Southwest. Finally Southwest signed a contract with Aeroman in the first quarter of 2008, says Brown
http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2009/10/29/334031/maintenance-outsourcing-emerging-appeal.html
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 04:35 pm
@hawkeye10,
It is hard for me as an individual to distinguish (and for other lay people and non-jet-aircraft mechanics) whether or not this practice if put in place is an issue that disqualifies them from consideration as an airline of choice. Whether or not other airlines have done this sort of thing and/or this practice represents a problem as far as safety goes is of interest, to say the least.

In the meanwhile, I consider Southwest Airlines an airline that should be thinking long and hard about the direction in which they might be heading with this potential out-sourced maintenance. Quality of airframe and jet engine maintenance and inspection has to be number 1. Jet panes don't have a reassuring glide path. They fall down go boom!
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 11:01 pm
From 1993
Quote:
Steve Day
Manager of Maintenance Control
Southwest Airlines
When I meet people from other airlines, I enjoy visiting and talking about the way we at Southwest
Airlines approach our job. I find that people either are not very familiar with Southwest or that they are
familiar with our operation because they have flown Southwest. Quite often, people want to know if we
really have a maintenance department or if we contract it all out. We do have a maintenance department
to do overnight maintenance; we do our own B-checks, C-checks, quarter-Ds, and half-Ds. The only part
we contract out as is major overhauls which Tramco does
.

https://hfskyway.faa.gov/HFTest/Bibliography%20of%20Publications%5CMX%20FAA(Former%20HFSkyway)%5CHuman%20Factors%20Issues%5CMeeting%208%5CWorkforceProcedures.pdf

from 2007
Quote:
By Elyse Moody/AviationWeek.com
Southwest Airlines now operates five hangars at Dallas Love Field.
Its 80,000 square foot, $18.5 million new addition, under construction since November 2006, is open and performing basic checks, a Southwest representative Dec. 4 confirmed.

Southwest's fifth hangar already has two aircraft in for A checks, the spokeswoman said, adding that it can simultaneously accommodate up to three Boeing 737-700NG aircraft with winglets.

Though Southwest does not plan to use the additional space to increase the amount of heavy maintenance it undertakes, the new hangar will increase flexibility at its Dallas headquarters, the spokeswoman confirmed. 70 percent of Southwest's heavy maintenance is outsourced to AAR, Pemco and Goodrich
http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=mro&id=news/swa1257.xml&headline=Southwest%20Opens%20New%20Dallas%20Maintenance%20Hangar

I cant document yet but I will be shocked to learn that any Southwest D Checks are done in America. These are the most extensive checks, done every 4-5 years, which take about a month for a 737. This aircraft had a D check done only a year ago. I cant wait to find out where this one was done, because at the last D Check some cracks were fixed, but it is pretty clear that they did not find all of them.
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 11:19 pm
@hawkeye10,
Once again, what are other USA/North American airlines doing as far as the outsourcing of the inspections and maintenance of their 737s and other jet aircraft?

How am I as a layman going to make an intelligent fact-based decision as to which airlines to avoid and/or boycot (assuming I would avoid any of them due to this issue) for their less-than-stringent maintenance and inspection processes? I don't see this issue as the 'smoking gun" - at least not yet.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 11:39 pm
@Ragman,
Quote:
Once again, what are other USA/North American airlines doing as far as the outsourcing of the inspections and maintenance of their 737s and other jet aircraft?

Quote:
Until the 1980s, airlines performed their
own aircraft maintenance. Since then, these
companies have been increasingly interested
in trimming costs and reducing investments
in what is often seen as a non-core activity.
Consequently, more airlines are outsourcing
MRO work. MRO outsourcing grew from
approximately 30 percent in 1990 to 50
percent in 2000, and is projected to reach
around 85 percent in 2020. Component and
engine maintenance lead in outsourcing, each
with over 70 percent outsourced.
22


Today’s growth in outsourcing creates fertile
ground for MRO businesses old and new to
play larger roles. Major airlines that outsource
all or most of their MRO service today include
Southwest Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Alaska
Airlines and US Airways.
2
http://www-304.ibm.com/easyaccess/fileserve?contentid=186415
Quote:
I don't see this issue as the 'smoking gun" - at least not yet.
Are there any other US Airlines who have had two metal fatigue caused skin failures in flight during the last three years, plus gotten a $7.5 million fine from the FAA for blowing off skin inspections? I think it is clear that Southwest Airlines is SPECIAL.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 11:48 pm
Quote:
(AP:YUMA, Ariz.) Inspectors have found small, subsurface cracks in three more Southwest Airlines planes that are similar to those suspected of causing a jetliner to lose pressure and make a harrowing emergency landing in Arizona, a federal investigator said Sunday.

Southwest said in statement that two of its Boeing 737-300s had cracks and will be evaluated and repaired before they are returned to service. A National Transportation Safety Board member told The Associated Press later Sunday that a third plane had been found with cracks developing.

The cracks found in the three planes developed in two lines of riveted joints that run the length of the aircraft.

Nineteen other Boeing 737-300 planes inspected using a special test developed by the manufacturer showed no problems and will be returned to service. Checks on nearly 60 other jets are expected to be completed by late Tuesday, the airline said.
http://news.ino.com/headlines/?newsid=68977677627480

so that means that including the one which blew a hole in flight of the 737's that have not had skin replacement 17% of those inspected so far fail. This is not great at all. You know the FAA will go look to see when and where all of these planes had their last d checks, because this should be found in a D check.
 

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