Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Travel&Dining > Travel News
Reload this Page >

Now the FAA is making sense! (AA MD-80 wire bundles .25" too far apart)

Now the FAA is making sense! (AA MD-80 wire bundles .25" too far apart)

Old Apr 10, 08, 8:13 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Programs: EXP
Posts: 412
Now the FAA is making sense! (AA MD-80 wire bundles .25" too far apart)

From what they're saying now (at least what I heard on Today), the FAA is saying the cable ties on the MD-80 wire bundles were 1.25 inches apart instead of the required 1.0 inches. These watchdogs of safety are sure doing a great job!!!
It was certainly worth ruining the travel plans of thousands of Americans and imposing severe financial repercussions on AA.

My only questions: How has the airline industry and/or FAA managed to hush up news of all the MD-80s falling from the skies these past 20+ years? Do they have a deal with the press to not publicize the tens of thousands of passengers who have died? How has Boeing managed to manufacture replacement MD-80s and how have the airlines been able to pay for all these replacement aircraft? How many flights does the typical MD-80 manage to complete before they explode in the sky?

Last edited by metsfan1962; Apr 10, 08 at 8:37 am Reason: typo
metsfan1962 is offline  
Old Apr 10, 08, 8:17 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: BOS
Programs: riding the lifetime status. DL MM / AA MM
Posts: 2,951
i switched to united, because i prefer crashing in a 777...

seriously, tho, i agree with your sentiment completely, tho i can't understand why CNN is reporting today that 179 planes have been inspected, and of those, 119 are "still undergoing work". does that mean the mechanic at whatever random airport the plane is grounded at is waiting for a mechanic from TUL to arrive with some cable ties? or is there more to this than they're letting on?
Seat1A is offline  
Old Apr 10, 08, 8:19 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: JFK/LGA
Programs: AA Plt Pro/5 MM, BA Blue Bayou, HH LT Diamond
Posts: 5,181
Originally Posted by metsfan1962 View Post
From what they're saying now (at least what I heard on Today), the FAA is saying the cable ties on the FAA wire bundles were 1.25 inches apart instead of the required 1.0 inches. These watchdogs of safety are sure doing a great job!!!
It was certainly worth ruining the travel plans of thousands of Americans and imposing severe financial repercussions on AA.

My only questions: How has the airline industry and/or FAA managed to hush up news of all the MD-80s falling from the skies these past 20+ years? Do they have a deal with the press to not publicize the tens of thousands of passengers who have died? How has Boeing managed to manufacture replacement MD-80s and how have the airlines been able to pay for all these replacement aircraft? How many flights does the typical MD-80 manage to complete before they explode in the sky?
While i agree the maddogs seem to have had a number of high profile crashes i think it is still less than 10 planes that were lost and so your "tens of thousands" statistic might be a tad overstated.

Edit- it is 22 planes lost and ~1,000 lives.
pauleeepaul is online now  
Old Apr 10, 08, 8:32 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Austin, TX
Programs: AA GLD .25MM, CO, UA, US, DL, HH, SPG (all cardboard)
Posts: 1,948
I suspect it just takes time to measure cable ties to the precision of 1/4". I thought it was something like this, but I didn't realize it was so tiny a difference. (I was imagining 12" vers 18" or such)
KD5MDK is offline  
Old Apr 10, 08, 8:34 am
  #5  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: SJC/VCE
Programs: AA PLT (2.9+ MM), HH GLD, Hyatt Diamond, SPG PLT
Posts: 10,161
Originally Posted by Seat1A View Post
i switched to united, because i prefer crashing in a 777...


Originally Posted by Seat1A View Post
seriously, tho, i agree with your sentiment completely, tho i can't understand why CNN is reporting today that 179 planes have been inspected, and of those, 119 are "still undergoing work". does that mean the mechanic at whatever random airport the plane is grounded at is waiting for a mechanic from TUL to arrive with some cable ties? or is there more to this than they're letting on?
You mean more than a cable news network seizing on the opportunity to fan the flames on an already awful situation?
bdemaria is offline  
Old Apr 10, 08, 8:38 am
  #6  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Miami, FL
Programs: AA EXP/Marriott Plat/Hertz PC
Posts: 12,724
The government is doing everything it can to destroy aviation in this country. It's ridiculous.
whirledtraveler is offline  
Old Apr 10, 08, 8:39 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Mostly AUS or rural England
Programs: BAEC redundant Bronze, AAdvantage Lifetime PLT, CO, WN, B6
Posts: 6,526
Originally Posted by metsfan1962 View Post
From what they're saying now (at least what I heard on Today), the FAA is saying the cable ties on the FAA wire bundles were 1.25 inches apart instead of the required 1.0 inches. These watchdogs of safety are sure doing a great job!!!
It was certainly worth ruining the travel plans of thousands of Americans and imposing severe financial repercussions on AA.

My only questions: How has the airline industry and/or FAA managed to hush up news of all the MD-80s falling from the skies these past 20+ years? Do they have a deal with the press to not publicize the tens of thousands of passengers who have died? How has Boeing managed to manufacture replacement MD-80s and how have the airlines been able to pay for all these replacement aircraft? How many flights does the typical MD-80 manage to complete before they explode in the sky?

If a safety authority specifies a spacing for cable ties, then AA is obliged to follow the ruling, not to make up their own, if they want to keep their operator license. What would you have felt if they'd been 1.5" or 2" apart? What is adequate in the long term? How about if a couple fall off? Are you in a position to know what is adequate and what is not?

The more important question is why on earth didn't AA do it right 2 weeks ago? They must have known they were going to get re-checked.

For that matter, why haven't they been progressively fixing these bundles correctly for 18 months since the AD was issued? That's longer than the C-check period for the MD80.
bernardd is offline  
Old Apr 10, 08, 8:55 am
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Programs: EXP
Posts: 412
Originally Posted by bernardd View Post
If a safety authority specifies a spacing for cable ties, then AA is obliged to follow the ruling, not to make up their own, if they want to keep their operator license. What would you have felt if they'd been 1.5" or 2" apart? What is adequate in the long term? How about if a couple fall off? Are you in a position to know what is adequate and what is not?

The more important question is why on earth didn't AA do it right 2 weeks ago? They must have known they were going to get re-checked.

For that matter, why haven't they been progressively fixing these bundles correctly for 18 months since the AD was issued? That's longer than the C-check period for the MD80.
My point remains: If this was such a critical safety issue that couldn't wait a few weeks so the ties could have been adjusted at the next maintenance check, how have the MD-80/DC-9/Boeing 717s been flying for 30 years without crashing because of this horrendous problem? Heck, there probably weren't ANY cable ties, much less ones which were spaced 1/4 inch too far apart, yet somehow those planes and their passengers cheated death. Let's put it this way: if I'm driving 55 mph in a 55 zone, I'm a safe driver, other things being equal. But some pinheads would say if I'm doing 56 mph in that same 55 zone, I'm speeding, endangering my fellow motorists, should be fined, have my insurance rates go up, etc.

The best is the enemy of good enough. Sometimes close gets the job done and perfection is far too costly and sometimes totally unnecessary. This MD-80 situation is a perfect example of that.
metsfan1962 is offline  
Old Apr 10, 08, 9:06 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: NYC
Programs: AA - EXP 1.5 Million Miles, SPG Gold, hertz 5 star
Posts: 498
If the regs say 1", why wasn't AA staying within the rules? Planes have been brought down by a lot less than a 1/4 inch difference (BA lost a windshield because a screw was about 1 mm too small in size).

When people's lives are at stake, details matter. If there were a crash, you'd all be screaming bloody murder if it came out that they knowingly evaded FAA rules.

Let's call a spade a spade. This all happened because it became OK for airlines to make their own acceptable limits. Now that those cozy days are over and airlines must follow the rules, this is what's happening. Blame the FAA? sure... they shouldve been enforcing the audits for years.

Blame the airlines? Absolutely! they cut corners, rushed maintenance, and declared their own safety standards. Now it's biting them.

I feel bad for all impacted flyers and employees.
Now, will AA's executive staff stop blaming those "nit picky" regulators and take responsibility. This is a business of exact standards. 1/4" in general can absolutely make a difference between a safe flight and a disaster. I'll leave it to an actual pilot, inspector, or maintenance engineer to say whether 1/4" in a wire tie is critical.

I'd prefer the airline industry to have basic rules and be forced to operate within them. eliminate variance.

Basic 6 sigma philosophy. Define defects and you will narrow the bell curve. 3.4 errors per million opportunities is a heckuva lot safer than 14,000 errors per million. (aircraft operate at 12 or 13 sigma.... I like those odds even better)
journalist212 is offline  
Old Apr 10, 08, 9:12 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Programs: AA EXP 1.27M Hyatt Diamond Marriott SLVR HHonors GLD
Posts: 239
Originally Posted by whirledtraveler View Post
The government is doing everything it can to destroy aviation in this country. It's ridiculous.
Yep - that's item #6 on the checklist:

Excerpt from the Galactic Ultra Top Secret Politicos Handbook:

1. Gain power for the rich so we can oppress all the little people
2. Drive the cost of oil up so we can prop up the economy with defense spending and the occasional war...also, see goal number 6
3. Screw the spotted owl!
5. At all costs, do NOT distinguish yourself from other politicos with original thought! Instead, seek to attack their lifestyle, mannerisms, family, friends, religious convictions, etc.
6. Destroy aviation in the US
7. Check your blackberry at least 5 times a minute, unless you are in a conversation with someone, then make it 10.


The list goes on...fascinating reading.
stbeeman is offline  
Old Apr 10, 08, 9:12 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Mostly AUS or rural England
Programs: BAEC redundant Bronze, AAdvantage Lifetime PLT, CO, WN, B6
Posts: 6,526
Originally Posted by metsfan1962 View Post
My point remains: If this was such a critical safety issue that couldn't wait a few weeks so the ties could have been adjusted at the next maintenance check, how have the MD-80/DC-9/Boeing 717s been flying for 30 years without crashing because of this horrendous problem? Heck, there probably weren't ANY cable ties, much less ones which were spaced 1/4 inch too far apart, yet somehow those planes and their passengers cheated death.

....

The best is the enemy of good enough. Sometimes close gets the job done and perfection is far too costly and sometimes totally unnecessary. This MD-80 situation is a perfect example of that.

The point is every darn one of those MD80's has been through a C-check since the AD was issued and AA didn't fix the wires accoding to the spec.

AA grounded the planes 2 weeks ago to fix any that required fixing.

The FAA came back and did a random check and almost every aircraft failed.

Now you're saying they should have given AA more time? I think they've given them a lot of room to get this done, and they had to draw a line in the sand somewhere.
bernardd is offline  
Old Apr 10, 08, 9:19 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: NYC
Programs: AA LT G (1MM);DL G, UA GM
Posts: 2,028
I'm not any kind of techie but I wonder if two weeks of engine vibration could cause those ties to slip by 1/4 of an inch. I keep envisioning garbage bag twist-ties.

It's no joke, I know. I'm scheduled to fly and MD80 LGA-ORD on Sunday...
Fornebufox is offline  
Old Apr 10, 08, 9:21 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Austin, TX
Programs: AA GLD .25MM, CO, UA, US, DL, HH, SPG (all cardboard)
Posts: 1,948
There have been reports that the AD has been changing frequently and even yesterday or the day before. At what time was the 1" specification defined and what tolerance is it established at (ie, +/- .025"?). All useful measurements have a tolerance in them.

Last edited by KD5MDK; Apr 10, 08 at 9:22 am Reason: corrected measurement
KD5MDK is offline  
Old Apr 10, 08, 9:22 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: DFW
Programs: AA EXP-1MM, SPG Gld, HH Silver, Skymiles, Marriott Silver, Hyatt GP Plat , CO Peon, Hertz 5 Star
Posts: 1,371
Originally Posted by bernardd View Post
If a safety authority specifies a spacing for cable ties, then AA is obliged to follow the ruling, not to make up their own, if they want to keep their operator license. What would you have felt if they'd been 1.5" or 2" apart? What is adequate in the long term? How about if a couple fall off? Are you in a position to know what is adequate and what is not?

The more important question is why on earth didn't AA do it right 2 weeks ago? They must have known they were going to get re-checked.

For that matter, why haven't they been progressively fixing these bundles correctly for 18 months since the AD was issued? That's longer than the C-check period for the MD80.
The problem with many of government directives whether it is with the airline industry or any other industry, they (the government), tends to leave what appears many gray areas. If you have ever read through a government RFP you'd understand. I don't if they were vague in the directive to the airlines but obviously something wasn't detailed right in the directive. Even though it has affected AA the most DL canceled about two dozen flights yesterday and AS grounded their whole, albeit small fleet of MD 80s yesterday. That is just my take on it.
chsb is offline  
Old Apr 10, 08, 9:31 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: BOS
Programs: riding the lifetime status. DL MM / AA MM
Posts: 2,951
Originally Posted by bdemaria View Post
if you're going to me, the OP. i'm just following in the spirit, and mocking UA's recent grounding... unless you're ing me for switching to UA. that i can respect. ;-)

i don't disagree that this needs to be fixed, but surely by now the FAA and AA could have reached an agreement on a sane schedule for fixes, based on a reasoned discussion of the costs and benefits..

Originally Posted by bernardd
What would you have felt if they'd been 1.5" or 2" apart? What is adequate in the long term? How about if a couple fall off? Are you in a position to know what is adequate and what is not?
it's not a question of 1", live, 1.25", die.. it's a question of 1" being a little more solid, and allowing a longer time between checks. 2" apart starts to look sketchy, because it's the same scenario as "what if a couple fall off". i'm quite certain 1" was selected out of an abundance of caution (a good thing) so that if a few cable ties fall off, the plane is still safe. that's why i think flying at 1.25" for a week or two as they cycle thru planes at night is just fine.

am i in a position to know what is adequate and what is not? no. am i in a position to think logically about the reason 1" was selected, and believe that 1.25" for the short term is less likely to result in death than leaving thousands of people at o'hare overnight? i think so. put another way, if this is all about cable tie spacing, i would gladly fly on an unfixed MD80 in the short term.
Seat1A is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: