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American mechanics delayed my flight intentionally
Hello. I was shown this article that you wrote through some colleagues and I wanted a chance to respond to you. [URL]https://onemileatatime.com/american-mechanics-delaying-flights/[/URL]
I apologize that this isn’t a question but this seems to be the only way I can find to communicate to you.
I am a mechanic for American Airlines at LGA. I take pride in my work as do many others. People commenting on the article portray us to be the devil and even one user said that “we should all be fired.” Its not your article that got me angry but more the comments.
I’m not here to defend anything that happened to you but what I do know are facts since I looked it up in our maintenance program to figure out what happened.
The screen shot you posted showed you were booked on flight 922 from ORD to MIA on Friday June 7th. So going into the systems I see two things.
First you were scheduled on aircraft 3EC which is a B737 NG. They had previous reports of a pack light coming on. It was cleared and then when it got to the gate the problem came back and would not reset (Kind of like a check engine light coming on and going out by time you get to the mechanics). Easily deferrable (MEL) like you mentioned that we do a lot. However two problems came from this. 1) The plane now gets a pack inop. The pack is what is used to both cool/heat the cabin and what is used to pressurize the aircraft. With a pack inop the aircraft is restricted to 21,000 feet which is 16,000 feet lower then planned. This means more fuel. The aircraft can only hold so much fuel. Once its determined that it can’t hold enough to make you there safely with back up fuel, the aircraft is swapped. 2) There is history now with the aircraft as we say which would also sometimes cause our control to not authorize an MEL.
We as mechanics do not just apply a deferral and go on our merry way. Once we have to defer an item we must call MOC (Maintenance Operations Control) where we speak to a Technical Representative and they will either give us the MEL or deny the MEL. In your case the MEL was denied for flight restrictions. Once we are given the authorization to defer an item, we must comply with a set of maintenance procedures if any. This can range from deactivating items to pulling circuit breakers to doing nothing. So as you can see deferring an item isn’t just as easy as you made it out to seem in your article.
Now that we’re done with the first aircraft we’ll look at the second one that you were physically on. You were on another B737 NG aircraft 3HG. Why did you have to leave before 8:55 or you would need another plane while your flight crew and flight attendants weren’t timing out? Maintenance they said. They were correct. Not in the way you’re thinking though. Aircraft go through all sorts of inspections and work throughout the day and night. There were SIX scheduled cards that night in MIA. Four inspections and Two grease jobs for your ailerons. These work cards are time sensitive. If its not accomplished within a certain amount of time the aircraft is not LEGALLY allowed to go. You needed to have the brakes released by 8:55PM to be legal for that trip. If you went one minute later, the FAA would give a huge fine to American Airlines for flying illegally because you would not have landed with enough time till the cards MUST be accomplished. This includes your time to be in the air and account for anything that might happen before you get there (Storms on the way, ATC reroutes, etc.). It had nothing to do with a mechanic, just our maintenance program.
Throughout the article you say mechanics are delaying this and grounding that. We do not have the authority to take an aircraft out of service as you think we do. If there is an item that must be addressed prior to a flight, we must notify our management and they make the decision to delay the flight or to call the aircraft out of service. The ONLY authority plane side we have in a matter like that is to hold boarding to fix an item fast (ex – Holding boarding so we can work an overhead bin so that it can stay in use without people getting past us while we work). Even then we have to explain why we did it.
So you’re misleading your readers when you say you have proof that maintenance is intentionally delaying you and your flights in this situation. The original pilots said it wasn’t their decision because it wasn’t theirs to make. That doesn’t mean it was a mechanic in a devil suit laughing like John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. What is was if you took that aircraft in the configuration it was in, you would not have made it to MIA. Simple as that.
Now with all that said you said in your article that you understand our beef with management. I don’t hold any beef to my local management. I want our TOP management to be held accountable for trying to outsource our work. That is what I am fighting for. For your ignorant reader who said we should all be fired, let me explain why its not about money like she seems to think.
We get paid below industry average but its still good pay. What American wants to do is outsource more maintenance work to South American and Asia (as per their last proposal) from 7% to 12% and 50% of base/heavy maintenance (Doing heavy checks on planes and repairing of parts). This is unacceptable. They promised we will all have a job till the day we retire (Which is GREAT) but they will replace us with vendor work when we leave. This means that when I leave my spot no longer exists. Who wants to work for a company that wants no future for the job that you love? That’s what we’re fighting for.
We are not doing any slow downs (even though American has filed a lawsuit against our unions saying that we are). What we are doing is fixing whats broken. Nothing more and nothing less. No one is TRYING to hurt the flying public because lets face it, you pay our bills. What you think our “slow down” is, is all behind the scenes work. Nothing that affects passengers so I’m sorry to say all your proof is wrong (At least in this case).
Thank you for your time.
[USER=253]@Tom[/USER] P, thank you for the incredibly thorough explanation.
Thank you for a very thorough explanation. I learned a lot.