20 May 2009

Airline mechanics who can't read English

Saturday, May 16, 2009


News 8 Investigates

Not to scare you but you need to see this one! Watch the video that was shown in the Dallas area and look what they uncovered and then read on.

Airline mechanics not properly licensed or can speak english! WTF!!! I fly planes and I hope and demand that my mechanics are properly certified and know what the hell they are doing! I know just to get my pilots licenses and rating I had to study my butt off and I think I'm a compitent pilot but it doesn't do me any good if I am qualified and certified to fly if my aircraft is not!

This all goes back to our countries immigration policies and if they can't protect our borders and they can't have mechanics that speak english as well as read and write it then some serious heads need to roll!

The FAA had no comment on this fiasco and I'll be interested in hearing what they have to say that's for sure!


May 15th, 2009

News 8 has recently revealed serious flaws in the way the FAA licenses mechanics who fix planes.
There is evidence of years of problems in testing these mechanics. There is also evidence that hundreds of mechanics with questionable licenses are working on aircraft in Texas.
Now there is evidence of repair facilities hiring low-wage mechanics who can't read English.
Twenty-one people were killed when U.S. Airways Express Flight 5481 crashed in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2003. The plane went wildly out of control on takeoff.

One reason for the crash, investigators found, was that mechanics incorrectly connected the cables to some of the plane's control surfaces in the repair shop. The FAA was cited for improper oversight of the repair process.
Repairing airplanes is a complicated business. Airplanes have many manuals. Typically, when mechanics repair a part, they open the manual, consult the book, and make the repair step-by-step, as if it were a recipe book.

They make a list of every action they take, so the next person to fix the plane (as well as the people who fly it) will know exactly what has been done.
If mechanics don't speak English, the international language of aviation, they can't read the manual and they can't record their activities.

There are more than 236 FAA-certified aircraft repair stations in Texas, according to the FAA's Web site. News 8 has learned that hundreds of the mechanics working in those shops do not speak English and are unable to read repair manuals for today's sophisticated aircraft.
Former FAA inspector Bill McNease told News 8 he regularly encountered applicants for pilots’ licenses who tried to pretend they could speak English — but could not.

"When I was based in Dallas, I had that happen every week," McNease said. "It was not uncommon at all to have foreign flight students. We had mechanics, but I handled the pilot end of it.... and I turned down people every week because they couldn't speak English."
"There are people [where I work] who do not know how to read a maintenance manual as they are spelled out, because they don't have a clue," said one certified aircraft mechanic who works at a Texas aircraft repair station. He wished to remain anonymous to protect his employment.
To certify a part for flight or repair an engine, a mechanic must be licensed by the FAA as an Airframe and Powerplant mechanic, known in the business as an "A&P."

News 8 discovered that mechanics at one licensing center in San Antonio were being tested in Spanish as late as last fall. The FAA ultimately shut the facility down.
Supervisors in Texas repair stations say they are supposed to oversee the repairs of dozens of untrained mechanics who can't read the manuals and can't write down the work they've done.
But the FAA does not require every person working at a repair station to be a certified A&P. One certified A&P can sign off on the work of dozens of uncertified mechanics.

That creates a huge problem, another certified mechanic told News 8. "I need an interpreter to talk to these people," he said. "They can't read the manuals, they can't write, and I have so many working for me I can't be sure of the work they've done."

To be sure of proper quality, the supervisor has to either re-do the work himself or take the chance that no mistakes have been made. There is a push to get work out the door and planes back in the air. But when he signs his name to certify the repair for flight, he is legally responsible for it.

The root of the problem is money, mechanics say. A certified mechanic can earn upwards of $25 an hour in Texas. Technicians who can't speak English are often hired for less than $10, according to mechanics interviewed by News 8.

"I've been wanting to leave this company since the day I got there," said one certified A&P. "But with the economy the way it is, I've got kids to feed and I have to stay there. I don't want to be anywhere near one of those planes when it kills somebody."

The FAA is supposed to police repair stations, but insiders say the agency is more focused on looking at paperwork than inspecting the facilities. Insiders also say inspectors warn repair stations when they're coming.
"In Dallas, most of them would map it out and tell them what day they were going to be there," said Gene Bland, a former FAA inspector.

Safety, mechanics say, is at risk. "In my opinion," said one, "company owners should all be locked up because someone's going to die eventually, if it hasn't already happened."
Texas' two biggest airlines, American and Southwest, both require mechanics and the technicians who work under them to speak, read and write English.

But mechanics who work elsewhere — whose repairs often end up on commercial airliners — say their shops are filled with non-English speakers.
The FAA declined to be interviewed for this report.

13 May 2009

The Six Worst Airplane Passengers of 2009

We've all heard about (and sometimes seen for ourselves) the ugly side of the airlines.

She went on a three-minute-long tirade in a Hong Kong airport.

I'm talking about Surly Sue, the flight attendant with the fake smile, the snippy manner and the "don't even think about asking for another pack of peanuts" glare. Or how about the Clueless Customer Service Guy, who has no idea when the next available flight is, and clearly doesn't care.
But you know what? Some of those unpleasant airline employees (and there aren't many, believe me) are complete and utter delights when you compare them to some of the customers.
The ones I call nightmare passengers -- the people who torment the flight crews and leave the rest of us begging for mercy. Yes, their numbers are tiny, too.

"Liquid Soap Lady": A woman on a United flight allegedly took pills and alcohol, then tried to bite a crew member's leg. She also reportedly drank down the contents of a lavatory's liquid soap dispenser (apparently for its alcohol content). Her explanation to the cops: "I sometimes do crazy things."

"I-Have-a-Bomb Guy": A passenger on a Delta flight reportedly knocked a crew member to the floor as he attempted to open an exit door while yelling, "I have a bomb!" Passengers piled on, and he was subdued (keep reading for the postscript).

"Drinking Buddy": According to reports, flight attendants on a small Comair jet cut off the booze to a hefty and clearly intoxicated passenger, so he started swinging. The incident took place before 10 in the morning, and the loaded lad was reportedly on his way to his grandmother's funeral.

Exiting a Plane Too Soon

"Get Me Outta Here": An American Airlines jet had landed but was still waiting for gate space when an impatient passenger decided, "Enough!" He opened an aircraft door, deploying the emergency slide that he then used to make his getaway. He was detained by the cops but so were all the other passengers because they had to wait for "slide removal" before the aircraft could get to the gate.

"Cockpit Crasher": Police say an "unruly" fellow onboard a Delta flight heading from New York to Tel Aviv made a mad dash for the cockpit door and began pounding on it, forcing an emergency landing in Boston. The man blamed it on a panic attack.

"The Screamer": The tantrum began when the female passenger missed her Hong Kong flight and began screaming at the top of her lungs, all the while banging a desk, smacking into people and falling to the airport floor. Her shrill, hysterical screams were heard 'round the world, thanks to a Cathay Pacific employee who took video that wound up on YouTube.

What the heck's going on? Well, maybe not much. After all, most of us don't run into these people in the air or anywhere else, thank goodness. And, as Emily Post, author of the definitive "Etiquette," once said, "Since it is not likely that anyone would go around the world being deliberately offensive to others, it may be taken for granted that obnoxious behavior is either the fault of thoughtlessness or ignorance."

Or alcohol. Amazing what a big part this plays in bad behavior in the air (and elsewhere). Not always, of course. But when the pilot of an AirTran jet flying from Cancun to Baltimore radioed ahead to alert authorities about two passengers with nausea and fever -- in other words, possible swine flu victims -- the crew must have been chagrined to discover the two were merely drunk.
So how's a flier supposed to survive these days? Same way airline employees must: by following the old "do unto others." A little courtesy on both sides can go a long way to keeping us comfortable in those sardine tins called planes.

More Bad Passengers
And don't forget, often your fellow passengers are the good guys. Remember the "I Have a Bomb" incident? A bunch of passengers came to the rescue, including guitarist Chris Llewellyn who was on his way to a gig with rapper Asher Roth of "I Love College" fame. "I'm not going to go down with the plane," Llewellyn remembered thinking. Nice job.
So what to do if you have a legitimate complaint during your flight? Here's one example of getting your message across the right way.

A man who was disappointed in a meal he'd been served aboard a Virgin flight decided to complain to Richard Branson personally. His hilarious, yet perfectly polite letter recounts his dismay at peeling back the foil covering his entree, and, well, I'll let him tell it.
"Imagine being a 12-year-old boy, Richard. Now imagine it's Christmas morning and you're there with your final present to open. Only you open the present and [that much anticipated stereo] is not in there. It's your hamster, Richard. It's your hamster in the box and it's not breathing."

Did Branson flinch? Of course not. This is one entrepreneur who leavens his genius with a playful sense of humor. He promptly called the fellow and offered him a job as taste tester for airline cuisine.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.
Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations, including ABC News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Associated Press and Bloomberg. His Web site FareCompare.com offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deal.