Specific Plane details?

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Old Dec 9, 18, 10:22 pm
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Specific Plane details?

I see other threads where people are talking about configuration changes past and present which makes me wonder what other details are available to research about a plane I may be on?
When I am on a plane, I find myself wondering when its last maintenance was, how old it is, what configuration its in and what configuration it will be in at a later date.

I can't seem to locate specific tail numbers on my reservations, is there a way to locate that prior to flight?
Can I view the last time a plane was in maintenance or how long its been in service?

It looks like AlaskaFleetStatus can get me some of this information but is there a better process?

Thanks
James
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Old Dec 9, 18, 11:08 pm
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Originally Posted by TheotherJames View Post
I can't seem to locate specific tail numbers on my reservations, is there a way to locate that prior to flight?
Can I view the last time a plane was in maintenance or how long its been in service?
Usually about 2-3 days out at most, you can plug your flight number in at flightradar24.com and get an N-Number (or whatever registration from most other countries). However, those aircraft are always subject to last minute change.

Sorry, can't help you on aircraft maintenance history but I suspect most airlines would not be overtly forthcoming in providing such information to anyone other than qualified individuals from within the industry.

I should add if you want to find out how old an airplane is, just plug the registration number into a site like airfleets.net. You'll get a full-on history of the aircraft as to first flight, delivery date, prior operators, etc. Here are a couple of links:

To obtain Aircraft Registration Numbers

To display individual aircraft history
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Last edited by Seat 2A; Dec 10, 18 at 7:24 pm Reason: Additional helpful information
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Old Dec 10, 18, 7:27 pm
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You know, I was up much of the night last night cogitating over your desire to procure aircraft maintenance logs in advance of your flight. Have you considered hiring a lawyer and attempting to acquire the information via the Freedom of Information Act? Not sure if it would be applicable in this situation, but what the heck - it might be worth a try.

On the assumption that your primary concern here is safety, I'm curious ... once we're allowed to see the maintenance logs, what should we be looking for? Based upon your experience, what are the safety parameters that would indicate to laymen such as myself that an airplane might be unsafe to fly? I mean, if it's older than say, XXX years, should we avoid flying it? Or only fly it on a daytime flight? How long between C-checks is safe? And what if the C-Check was contracted out to a foreign outfit as Northwest used to do? I've always trusted Alaska to operate safe airplanes, but geez, now you’ve really got me thinking about how I should go about picking flights.

Finally, upon our determination that its aircraft might be unsafe or otherwise out of compliance with safety protocol per our own individual comfort zones, do you know if Alaska would be willing to change our flights at no cost or even refund our tickets completely? I mean, that would be a deal breaker if they wouldn't. Depending upon the cost involved, I'd probably just end up having to fly on the originally booked flight anyway.

I appreciate any insight you can provide in this regard. Thanks!

Last edited by Seat 2A; Dec 10, 18 at 8:51 pm
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Old Dec 10, 18, 9:22 pm
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FOIA is an interesting idea.

Unfortunately the FAA's average processing time is 24 days, so getting the info before your flight might prove to be a challenge.
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Old Dec 10, 18, 10:34 pm
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Originally Posted by VegasGambler View Post
FOIA is an interesting idea.

Unfortunately the FAA's average processing time is 24 days, so getting the info before your flight might prove to be a challenge.
AFAIK the FAA doesn't keep maintenance records for every US commercial airline; airlines keep their own logs according to FAA specs and may have to show them to the FAA from time to time. FOIA isn't going to get you much.
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Old Dec 11, 18, 8:59 am
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Originally Posted by Seat 2A View Post

Finally, upon our determination that its aircraft might be unsafe or otherwise out of compliance with safety protocol per our own individual comfort zones, do you know if Alaska would be willing to change our flights at no cost or even refund our tickets completely? I mean, that would be a deal breaker if they wouldn't. Depending upon the cost involved, I'd probably just end up having to fly on the originally booked flight anyway.

I appreciate any insight you can provide in this regard. Thanks!
Apparently I am unbelievably naive and just assumed that any aircraft that AS or any other US Carrier would put me on would be safe. I guess I need to hire a team of airframe and engine mechanics to evaluate each of my aircraft pre-flight.
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Old Dec 11, 18, 11:04 am
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Originally Posted by jsguyrus View Post
I guess I need to hire a team of airframe and engine mechanics to evaluate each of my aircraft pre-flight.
I do that every time I fly. They are employed by the airline I hire to transport me. I even have someone uniformed guy or gal walk a circle around the aircraft, rain or shine, before we take off. And to make sure they do a thorough job, I insist they fly with me.
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Old Dec 11, 18, 1:05 pm
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I'm one of those weirdos who logs my flights. Been doing so since I was a little kid. Last week I logged my 1,610th flight on Alaska, totaling out at 1,645,860 miles. I've logged almost 4 million additional miles on all the other airlines I've flown over the years. So far all of my flights have been safe. Indeed, I'm hard pressed to remember so much as a hard landing on any of my Alaska flights. In light of the questions raised in this thread however, I'm thinking of adding two new columns to my log to fill out for each flight. The first one I could check if I felt the plane was safe before the flight (maybe using a rating system of say, 1 to 10 to indicate my level of comfort) and the second one I could check off after the flight indicating I'd arrived safely. Or hadn't arrived, as the case might be. So many options... Maybe I could create a box for a qualified inspector to sign off before each flight... This is a lotta work...
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Old Dec 11, 18, 5:53 pm
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Thanks for the responses. Yes this is a request for safety but I would not say I am overly concerned, its more that I am curious if this is readily available information and if so, what information is provided. As for the types of maintenances, I am sure there is a website or video I can watch to get an idea of generic routine services performed on each type of aircraft but being able to see the logs for a specific plane would interest me as well especially if I am about to board.

At work I manage a few different Electrical and Mechanical Maintenance programs which results in several reports with varying sets of information depending on the service performed. I sometimes may see a pattern, higher/lower voltage/temperature readings, slower response times in transfer...etc etc.... which would indicate an issue that we should look at more closely.
None of this means I am qualified to do the same for any part of an aircraft, nor would I suddenly go screaming off a plane because its missing its Left Phalange.

Two reasons made me ask this now. I either seen a video or overheard someone say a specific plane had just come back from service, which started my mind going. Secondly, I recently was on a Airbus flight and walking down the aisle there was a seat wrapped up in tape with a sign that said "under no circumstances, is this seat to be used"....which I thought was... odd.
I got to my seat and after the cabin door was closed realized I had the entire row to my self, so moved to the center seat. As I sat down, the cushion in the seat I just got out of fell on the floor.... I notified the FA who said "Oh, another one" and reported it to someone in back and they directed me to pick the cushion up and put it back on the seat and that I should not try sitting in that seat for the remainder of the flight and they will report it to maintenance.

So, now I wonder, what is checked during "maintenance" how often is it checked and when was the last time the plane I am on was serviced oh and how old exactly is the plane I am on.

This all lead me to ask you fine persons if you had any information on the matter. It looks like I can get some information from various websites but as expected the Airlines probably do not want to make it too easy to be public information.

I'll dabble around with what is available then maybe someday push the limits on getting the rest of the information...

Thanks
James
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Old Dec 11, 18, 6:08 pm
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Originally Posted by TheotherJames View Post
nor would I suddenly go screaming off a plane because its missing its Left Phalange.
Nice.

I would not be worried about AS -- they have an excellent safety record.

It's worth looking up airlines in wikipedia -- they have a list of incidents for that airline, back to the beginning of time. It's an interesting read, at least. AS is great. Delta is an interesting read (excellent record, even more so considering how many planes they fly). Southwest is a little scary. LionAir is downright scary (apparently everyone is on crystal meth and knowing how to land is not a requirement to be a pilot there).
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Old Dec 11, 18, 6:18 pm
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Originally Posted by VegasGambler View Post
AS is great.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska...es_Flight_1866
https://aviation-safety.net/database...?id=19760405-0
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska...nes_Flight_261

Originally Posted by VegasGambler View Post
Southwest is a little scary.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southw...es_Flight_1248
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southw...es_Flight_1380

So that's, what, 2 fatalities vs. a whole lot more than 2?
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Old Dec 11, 18, 6:25 pm
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Originally Posted by TheotherJames View Post
Two reasons made me ask this now. I either seen a video or overheard someone say a specific plane had just come back from service, which started my mind going. Secondly, I recently was on a Airbus flight and walking down the aisle there was a seat wrapped up in tape with a sign that said "under no circumstances, is this seat to be used"....which I thought was... odd.
I got to my seat and after the cabin door was closed realized I had the entire row to my self, so moved to the center seat. As I sat down, the cushion in the seat I just got out of fell on the floor.... I notified the FA who said "Oh, another one" and reported it to someone in back and they directed me to pick the cushion up and put it back on the seat and that I should not try sitting in that seat for the remainder of the flight and they will report it to maintenance.

So, now I wonder, what is checked during "maintenance" how often is it checked and when was the last time the plane I am on was serviced oh and how old exactly is the plane I am on.
The FAA makes a big distinction between components that affect aircraft performance and survival and, say, broken tray tables or at-seat power outlets. Worst case scenario for an airline in the latter case is that they have to VDB people on a full flight if they don't fix it, which can be costly and irritating, but different standards are applied since you can just slap an NFG sticker on something and not worry about anyone dying after the plane takes off.
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Old Dec 11, 18, 6:55 pm
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To compare: AS had a plane crash 19 years ago, and everyone on board died. It was partially caused by a deviation from standard inspection intervals (not letting them off the hook) but the FAA signed off on it. That is absolutely a tragedy, and they had some fault, but it's not a pattern. They have not had an incident since.

Southwest has had 7 major incidents since March 2000. One was weather-related; the rest are either severe pilot error (causing the pilot to be fired) or severe problems with the aircraft. They have also been fined $10M by the FAA for failing to properly inspect their planes (the largest-ever fine of its type). They have also repeatedly had to ground large groups of planes after discovering that the required inspections had not been happening properly (34 in 2018, 128 in 2015, 43 in 2008 -- that's what lead to the large fine)

Southwest has a clear pattern of skimping on maintenance, and they have had major incidents at a far higher than expected rate. Two uncontained engine failures 20 months apart?? Something is very, very wrong there.

A pattern of cutting corners scares me a lot more than a one-off incident 19 years ago.
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Old Dec 11, 18, 7:44 pm
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The latest incident I posted has had FAA airworthiness directives issued that affect ALL operators of that engine type. Not just Southwest.

On July 24, 2018, the NTSB announced an investigative hearing that was held on November 14, 2018. At the hearing FAA Transport Standards Branch representative Victor Wicklund stated that the production inlets were not required to be subjected to certification testing, but if they had been and had failed, as was the case in this accident, that it would constitute a certification failure. He indicated that the cowling may require design changes.
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Old Dec 11, 18, 8:16 pm
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Originally Posted by VegasGambler View Post
To compare: AS had a plane crash 19 years ago, and everyone on board died. It was partially caused by a deviation from standard inspection intervals (not letting them off the hook) but the FAA signed off on it. That is absolutely a tragedy, and they had some fault, but it's not a pattern. They have not had an incident since.

Southwest has had 7 major incidents since March 2000. One was weather-related; the rest are either severe pilot error (causing the pilot to be fired) or severe problems with the aircraft. They have also been fined $10M by the FAA for failing to properly inspect their planes (the largest-ever fine of its type). They have also repeatedly had to ground large groups of planes after discovering that the required inspections had not been happening properly (34 in 2018, 128 in 2015, 43 in 2008 -- that's what lead to the large fine)

Southwest has a clear pattern of skimping on maintenance, and they have had major incidents at a far higher than expected rate. Two uncontained engine failures 20 months apart?? Something is very, very wrong there.

A pattern of cutting corners scares me a lot more than a one-off incident 19 years ago.

Please don't jump to conclusions. SWA has a fleet that was almost 4 times the size of pre-merger ASA. They also fly more passengers than any other airline in the country. So statistically, it makes sense that they would have more incidents than Alaska. So while those numbers are excellent clickbait, they don't prove anything.Also remember that SWA has the largest 737 fleet in the world, and given they were the launch customer of the 737-700, and thus have the oldest flying -700s, it's not shocking that SWA is the first to experience such an incident- they're the first airline to hit these service milestones with the airframe. Not unlike the UAL 777 that experienced a blade out event about a year ago. UAL has been flying those birds longer than any other airline, so it's really not that surprising that they're the first to encounter such a failure mode.

Facts and data matter. It's ignorant and insulting to the industry to suggest such a broad stroke accusation as fact. We should all be champions of safety and constantly set the bar higher. Out of respect for the men and women who make their living maintaining these incredibly complex engineering marvels, please leave it to the NTSB and the FAA to determine whether there's a cultural problem at an airline - that's why we give them our tax dollars.
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