Boeing View 2008

Another view from on high

CockpitPano1280.JPG (167562 bytes)The year is already a third through and it seems like it just began. Life is good and, as I'm wont to say, "if you gotta work, this ain't a bad gig.".

A lot of changes are in store for airline types, but the biggest came when mandatory retirement was moved from age 60 to 65. I've got no desire to retire. Although I've got another 14 years before reaching age 60, working 12 days a month feels like semi-retirement already. The most stressful part of my life is what I inflict on myself with all the paramotoring stuff. I'm not complaining, mind you, I do it willingly. Lord knows I couldn't live off the income. But still, deadlines are deadlines.

The Maintenance Issue

Southwest is a great airline to work for. And all this hubbub about maintenance is somewhat surprising to me. Being an insider at several airlines before, I can attest that Southwest has, what I consider to be, the best maintenance of all. Not that any were particularly bad, mind you, but Southwest has been the best.

The reality, from my perspective, is that someone at Southwest probably discovered an inspection that either wasn't done by the correct procedure or wasn't properly documented. They corrected the problem, told the FAA liaison, and asked if they could redo the inspections as airplanes overnighted in their respective cities. The FAA liason said yes and that's what maintenance did. The airline even started an internal audit, before any news coverage, to correct the original problem. They recognized a problem and set out to correct it. That's the way it appears from my seat.

One example of quality is deferred maintenance. All airlines allow certain non-critical items to be inoperative and be "deferred" for some number of days. It would be nearly impossible to run an airline otherwise. The list of items that can be so deferred is highly regulated and must be on the approved minimum equipment list (MEL). It spells out the items, special considerations, time limits and other details. Some airlines will commonly have one to three items on a significant percentage of their fleet at any given time. Southwest Airlines usually has none. Being profitable affords the ability to not skimp on maintenance. Naturally, given my amount of time aloft in these aircraft, I'm quite thankful.

I've also found the airline to be proactive on overall safety issues, too. Of course there are things I would like to see improved, but changes must be made carefully. And many of the improvements I suggest are beyond the airline's control anyway.

Nothing against the news media—as a writer for several magazines, I'm part of it myself. But lets face it, sensational sells. It's just human nature for them to sensationalize as much as their editorial policy allows. I'm extremely happy for a free press but we always have to be careful about consumption.

If you gotta work...

Mount Hood guards the southeast entrance to Portland International Airport.
It's the best view around unless you want to brave the cold, howling wind to climb it.
I don't do cold, let alone cold with a howling wind. Photo by Jim Ribar March 25, 2008


© 2016 Jeff Goin & Tim Kaiser   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!