American Airlines pilots union reaffirms its position on safety, maintenance
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
9/25/12 at 4:21 AM
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American Airlines' pilots will continue to report aircraft equipment malfunctions and maintenance issues that could jeopardize safety, spokesmen for the Allied Pilots Association said Monday.
"There is another side of the story," said APA spokesman Greg Overman, who added that American's maintenance problems have been documented by federal investigators and the airline's creditors.
An increase in maintenance reports filed by pilots led bankrupt American to cancel 300 flights last week and reduce its remaining September and October schedule by up to 2 percent.
American canceled 20 flights on Sunday due to maintenance issues that the company says are related to American's rejection of the APA's collective bargaining agreement.
"No one at American is questioning normal maintenance write-ups and we must ensure that our safe operations continue each and every flight," said American spokesman Bruce Hicks. "However, for the past 14 days, we have seen unprecedented pilot maintenance write-ups, many at the time of scheduled departure, which is having an impact on our operation.
"American, like all airlines, follows a FAA- (Federal Aviation Administration) approved Continuous Airworthiness Maintenance Program that includes periodic aircraft maintenance inspections and procedures for addressing issues when found, such as those listed by the APA. Once identified, all issues are properly addressed by our aircraft maintenance personnel, and (aircraft) are in airworthy condition when returned to service. This safety system provides the assurance that our customers, and our people, reach their destinations safely thousands of times a day."
APA President Keith Wilson said the maintenance reports filed by pilots are related to American's bankruptcy and the fact American flies the oldest fleet of aircraft among major U.S. carriers.
"American Airlines pilots are trained professionals who are responsible for flying their passengers safely around the world every day," Wilson said. "The list of unresolved maintenance issues grows every day on each of the aging aircraft we operate, and we can't ignore serious maintenance issues that could easily turn into safety risks. Our pilots will not compromise safety, ever."
Wilson said American pilots recently have documented maintenance issues, including:
"American Airlines chose to reject our contract and the operational procedures and protections that go with it," Wilson said. "Understandably, our pilots are taking a prudent and cautious approach in their operational decision-making process.
- A left engine generator failed in flight.
- An aircraft sustained a lightning strike.
- A ground proximity warning system failed in flight.
- A partial flight control failure.
- A weather radar test was inoperative.
- A fuel leak on right wing main tank.
"During the past year, American Airlines has sustained record FAA fines totaling $162 million for improper aircraft maintenance procedures, a strong indication that management's maintenance practices have raised concerns with regulators. In addition, companies that own and lease American Airlines aircraft have formally complained to the bankruptcy court that AA management has neglected to perform routine maintenance on their aircraft."
American said it needs to close its Alliance Airport maintenance base in Fort Worth and lay off more than 1,000 mechanics by year-end. The company also said it must cut at least 800 mechanics at its Tulsa maintenance base, which employs 7,000 people overall, and outsource up to 35 percent of aircraft maintenance now performed in house.
"When maintenance operations are shipped overseas, quality control and FAA oversight only become more difficult," Wilson said.
Original Print Headline: Pilots union reaffirms its position on safety issues
D.R. Stewart 918-581-8451
Allied Pilots Association official Mike McClellan joins other pilots marching Thursday in Chicago. M. SPENCER GREEN / Associated Press