Friday, September 28, 2012

Allied Pilots Association: Pilots Continue to Report Serious Maintenance Issues

— The Allied Pilots Association (APA), certified collective bargaining agent for the 10,000 pilots of American Airlines, issued the following response regarding recent management allegations that pilots continue to disrupt flight schedules with insignificant maintenance requests.

“Federal aviation regulations and American Airlines’ policies and procedures require that all known mechanical discrepancies be entered into the aircraft’s maintenance logbook for corrective action,” said APA President Keith Wilson. “Failure to place a mechanical discrepancy in the maintenance logbook can result in a revocation of a pilot’s license by the Federal Aviation Administration, not to mention the fact that it could result in a serious safety risk.”

American Airlines pilots continue to encounter a large number of serious maintenance-related issues that must be documented, as required by law. Below is a small sampling of issues that were documented pre-flight in the past several days:
  • Pilot oxygen mask broken
  • Main landing gear hydraulic leak
  • Aircraft avionics overheat warning
  • Fuel tank seepage on the ramp
  • Premature fuel burn indications
When proper preventative maintenance on the ground is not performed, it can lead to in-flight incidents such as the following, which were recently reported by our pilots:
  • A B-737 had a wheel well fire indication in flight and was forced to declare an emergency and returned to the departure airport.
  • A B-737 declared an emergency and was diverted to Amarillo due to a smoke and electrical smell in the cockpit while en route from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Denver.
  • There were bearing failures in the main landing gear on a B-767 requiring replacement of two wheels.
  • A B-767 experienced multiple landing gear indication malfunctions after takeoff and was forced to declare an emergency and land overweight at the departure airport.
  • There was a premature fuel burn from the left main wing tank causing a serious weight and balance issue.
Due to recent FAA fines and American’s ongoing financial struggles, the FAA has stepped up its scrutiny of the carrier’s maintenance procedures.

“American currently operates the oldest fleet of aircraft in the industry, requiring much more frequent maintenance than other carriers that operate newer fleets,” Wilson said.

This week, the FAA Certificate Management Office that monitors American Airlines sent a message to APA regarding its “specialized Operational Risk surveillance” on the airline. The message included the following statement directed to pilots: “If you feel you have been coerced to refrain from reporting maintenance discrepancies, we advise you to report any instance of such to the AMR CMO for investigation. We also encourage you to use the Aviation Safety Action Program to report such instances.”

Wilson said pilots are no doubt taking a prudent and cautious approach in their operational decision-making process ― especially in light of the fact that management canceled the AA-APA collective bargaining agreement and the protections it provided.

“Our pilots should never be pressured or bullied into not reporting any maintenance issues that could endanger the traveling public,” Wilson said.

Founded in 1963, the Allied Pilots Association—the largest independent pilot union in the United States—is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. APA represents the 10,000 pilots of American Airlines, including 649 pilots not yet offered recall from furlough. The furloughs began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Also, several hundred American Airlines pilots are on full-time military leave of absence serving in the armed forces. The union’s Web site address is American Airlines is the nation’s largest international passenger carrier and fifth-largest cargo carrier.

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