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 Post subject: Southwest Airlines unsafe?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:12 am 
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As a civil aviation buff, I was horrified to read this article. This is serious, serious, serious.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/03/06/southwest.planes/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

Since meat recalls have been in the news a lot recently, let me try to compare it to that. This is the airplane equivalent of an inspector finding E. coli or salmonella on a piece of meat, informing the company, and them doing nothing. The fact that no one gets sick/hurt/killed is beside the point: the company has a legal and moral responsibility to address the problem immediately. The lack of action is abhorrent and the company deserves to get hammered for it.

The 737 has a history of uncommanded rudder deflections when heated hydraulic fluid enters a cooled rudder power control valve, causing the valve to seize, and it’s caused several crashes. And metal fatigue/fuselage cracks are probably the single biggest risk of any plane anywhere and have caused dozens of crashes of all makes of planes. Metal fatigue inspections are possibly the single-most important inspections done on commercial aircraft.

How Southwest could take such a laissez-faire attitude and ignore or delay these critical, critical inspections is beyond me. Southwest took an incredibly cavalier attitude with the well-being of their passengers and my faith in them is shaken tremendously.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:42 am 
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Yeah that is scary! I hope they have some kind of huge penatly because lives were clearly at risk.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 11:45 am 
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A large fine should definitely be forthcoming, I would hope. Usually Congressional hearings are only started when the feds want to attack something.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 12:37 pm 
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The good senator is going to call a "hearing" on the matter. That comforts me a lot (sarcasm grows) :!: Maybe if the senator got a real job where he had to DO SOMETHING rather than call a hearing, we could get something done. Reminds me of the old saying....when all is said and done, more is said than done. Still....I probably won't be flying Southwest anytime soon. 8-)


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 Post subject: Flying
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:44 pm 
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Ever since about '77 when I saw (on video) a McDonnel-Doublas jumbo jet's engine RIP OFF the wing on takeoff, the plane roll over and hit the ground killing over 300 people....I'm not really big on flying.

The ensuing finger pointing at MD by American (bad structural integrity...poor design) and pointing back at American by MD (bad maintenance habits...wasn't supposed to use a fork lift to take the engine off for maintenance) lead me to believe we have some very poorly designed aircraft being worked on by people who's companies still hold that "bottom line" most sacred...fast and cheap.

In essance, you are flying a Greyhound bus 30,000 feet in the sky. The difference is when Greyhounds break down (which they often do) you just pull over to the side of the road.

Or the wonderful incident on, I think it was Aloha Air, where a huge section of a 737 just blew out of the airplane taking a flight attendant with it at altitude between island. Or the more recent problem with elevator control on another type of Douglas plane that dumped almost 200 people into the ocean off So Cal on Alaska Airlines. And they KNEW there was a problem with those elevators (they are the type mounted on top of the rudder at the rear of the plane).

Maybe its the statistical safest way to travel, but....

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 Post subject: Re: Flying
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 5:07 pm 
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JCYS wrote:
Ever since about '77 when I saw (on video) a McDonnel-Doublas jumbo jet's engine RIP OFF the wing on takeoff, the plane roll over and hit the ground killing over 300 people....I'm not really big on flying.

273 people, actually.

American Airlines 191

Surprisingly, an engine tearing off the wing should not (by itself) be a catastrophic event that leads to a crash. It was the tearing of the hydraulic and power lines in the wing (bad luck/something that might not have happened if American's maintenance hadn't damaged the engine pylon) and the lack of hydraulic pressure safety valves on the DC-10 (that part a design flaw) that complicated the issue and lead to the crash. Granted, the flight crew only had 5-10 seconds to figure out what was going on, but if that had made the correct "educated guess" that plane might have been saved. Still, that's asking a lot.

JCYS wrote:
The ensuing finger pointing at MD by American (bad structural integrity...poor design) and pointing back at American by MD (bad maintenance habits...wasn't supposed to use a fork lift to take the engine off for maintenance) lead me to believe we have some very poorly designed aircraft being worked on by people who's companies still hold that "bottom line" most sacred...fast and cheap.

This crash was American's fault. The DC-10, while I loved flying in it, had some pretty severe design flaws that led to multiple crashes, but this wasn't one of them.

JCYS wrote:
Or the wonderful incident on, I think it was Aloha Air, where a huge section of a 737 just blew out of the airplane taking a flight attendant with it at altitude between island.

Aloha Airlines 243

A similar situation happened with United Airlines 811.

JCYS wrote:
Or the more recent problem with elevator control on another type of Douglas plane that dumped almost 200 people into the ocean off So Cal on Alaska Airlines. And they KNEW there was a problem with those elevators (they are the type mounted on top of the rudder at the rear of the plane).

Alaska Airlines 261

And let's avoid hyperbole here: (1) it was "only" 88 people, and (2) there's nothing wrong with the design of the T-tail aircraft, as the MD-80 series of aircraft have been flying for decades safely. This was another maintenance issue: the jackscrew nut that controlled the horizontal stabilizer on the tail had it's threading stripped because Alaska Airlines failed to lubricate the jackscrew assembly properly.

Accidents happen. I'm not worried about that. What concerns me is that the first major design flaw in commercial jet aircraft was failure to take into account metal fatigue (see DeHavilland Comet disasters of 1954). This was a major problem the severity of which has been known for over 50 years. What's alarming to me is not that an airline tried to cut corners and skimp and save, but that they tried to cut THIS corner, possibly the most serious thing they could have ignored.

JCYS wrote:
Maybe its the statistical safest way to travel, but....

It must be, since the first tragedy you brought up happened 30 years ago.

Of course your odds of dying in a plane crash increase in third world countries with poorer equipment and training, but air travel in the "first world" is (now) pretty much the safest thing there is. Airlines and the government learn from their mistakes. Well, except Southwest, evidently.

Food for thought: just counting domestic (within US) flights, not counting ANY international flights, the commercial airline industry served 3.8 billion passengers in the past six years (2002-2007).

Number of commercial airline crash fatalies in the US since January 1st, 2002? 91.

Yep, 91 in six years.

More people die in the U.S. from car crashes EVERY DAY than from plane crashes in SIX YEARS. But because airline crashes result in a high death with one fell swoop, they get much bigger headlines.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 6:13 pm 
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i thought the whole rudder thing had been solved years ago.


...or maybe they just started training pilots to compensate

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 6:37 pm 
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Ex Nihilo wrote:
i thought the whole rudder thing had been solved years ago.

They devised a fix for it, but the fix doesn't help if the airline isn't performing the inspections to catch the potential problem in the first place.

Ex Nihilo wrote:
...or maybe they just started training pilots to compensate

Not possible. That's why it's "uncommanded."


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 7:10 pm 
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Don't EVEN get me going about Southwest Airlines pilots ... I have a love/hate affair with them.

The hate part is the "hotdogging" contests the pilots have to see who can drop a plane the furthest down a runway then stop it in the shortest amount of time. One time this went spectacularly wrong was at Burbank (Bob Hope) Airport. The plane went through the end fence and into a Chevron Station. I have been on flights like this that touch down at Ontario at mid "old terminal" which is about 3/4 of the way down the runway, and they stopped about 100 ft from the long term parking fence. The pilot was cracking up at me as we exited when I said "Thank god we have seatbelts and you aren't flying hurricane patrol."

The love part is the fact that most Southwest Airline pilots have flown for the Air Force. We flew into Phoenix and didn't beat the dust storm/monsoon coming in from the east side. The plane hit a wind sheer at 1500 ft. and dropped like a stone to 500. We went "rocket" and were flying sideways as the pilot turned the plane around in 150+ mph winds. We landed at Yuma and sat there for 6 hours with no food and the request not to use the restrooms (on an Air Base and not allowed to exit the plane). I truly think we would have died if the pilot hadn't had 20 years combat experience.

So ... I hope someone does something about the 737's but at the same time they need to look at the pilot culture and mentality of "if we land it was a 'good' flight".

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 7:54 pm 
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Hostrauser wrote:
Ex Nihilo wrote:
i thought the whole rudder thing had been solved years ago.

They devised a fix for it, but the fix doesn't help if the airline isn't performing the inspections to catch the potential problem in the first place.

Ex Nihilo wrote:
...or maybe they just started training pilots to compensate

Not possible. That's why it's "uncommanded."


I think you should have a section on Airline Crashes on your next trivia session

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:46 pm 
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I could do that. I could easily have an entire trivia contest about that.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 10:27 am 
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Hostrauser wrote:
I could do that. I could easily have an entire trivia contest about that.


That'd be way cool

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2008 11:42 am 
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Hostrauser wrote:
Ex Nihilo wrote:
i thought the whole rudder thing had been solved years ago.

They devised a fix for it, but the fix doesn't help if the airline isn't performing the inspections to catch the potential problem in the first place.

Ex Nihilo wrote:
...or maybe they just started training pilots to compensate

Not possible. That's why it's "uncommanded."


maybe i'm thinking of another problem.

cuz i remember now i watched a discovery channel thing about it. they trained the pilots to compensate in the event that the rudder control went all screwy.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:32 am 
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well this just sucks... I fly with Southwest frequently.. and was about to fly with them next month...


guess I'll be looking for another airline...

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:38 am 
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malletphreak wrote:
well this just sucks... I fly with Southwest frequently.. and was about to fly with them next month...


guess I'll be looking for another airline...

Where are you going? You give me any destination I can tell you the best options for flying there. (PM me)


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