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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Backroom ATC Politics

Your voice needed quickly
to stop backroom politics!

(Click the link to Act Now)

The aviation community told Congress loud and clear that the nation did not want ATC privatization. So did consumer groups, mayors across the country, and even conservative associations. But, unable to get their way in the public forum, ATC privatization supporters are trying backroom methods to sneak their corporate giveaway into law. Late Monday (4/23), Rep. Bill Shuster added a "Manager's Amendment" to the FAA reauthorization bill (H.R. 4) that creates an "advisory council" dominated by big airlines just as the ATC privatization board would have been, but controlled by DOT away from public and congressional oversight.

This means no public input, no debate, and no transparency – lawmaking away from the spotlight that creates a safety issue for aviation and the general public. It is devious, reckless, and against what the American people have told Congress.

We need your help NOW! This measure could be voted upon as early as April 25 – another indication of the backroom politics involved. Contact your congressional representative through EAA's Rally Congress – or better yet, call directly – and urge them to remove Section 5 of Chairman Shuster's amendment to H.R. 4.

and now this? 

Take a stand! 

If you don't stand for something
You will fall for anything.

Enjoy the Journey
But don't be taken for a ride!
XO Karlene 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Removing Airline Pilots

Only You Can Stop It! 

This sounds like a plot out of a novel coming true, but truth is stranger than fiction. The powers to be are attempting to rid the flight deck of one pilot and operate single pilot. ALPA says, "The troublesome language was added by the Science Committee."  This feels more like a business decision than a science decision. I wonder, who is funding that committee"

The House of Representatives released a new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill (H.R. 4). The scary part of this bill is Section 744. Remove a pilot. 

Section 744 calls for FAA and NASA to develop "virtual copilot" aircraft for cargo operations with the idea of ground-based human or artificial intelligence support for single-piloted aircraft. Please don't think that the world is safe if it's only a cargo aircraft versus a passenger flight. The real issues is where impact will takes place. Besides... 

Cargo first, Passengers next. 

Air carriers are designed for more than one pilot in the flight deck, not only for workload management, but also to protect against the potential incapacitation of one of the pilots. Replacing one of the crewmembers with someone in a remote location would not only jeopardize the quality of crew resource management, crew coordination, create an overload situation in the event of an incident,  but would also open the skies to the next level of terrorism. 

If a ground-based operator can take control of my airline, 
that means anyone can. 

We do not want control of our aircraft 
by someone on the ground. 

If this technology is built and implemented, removing a pilot and allowing ground control, we have just opened pandora's box. This could be setting the stage for 911 all over again, but on a much larger scale. Only this time the terrorists won't need to be on the plane, they can hack into the system from the ground. Aviation expert andABC News correspondent, John Nance, wrote a novel, Final Approach, with this theme.  Please help me keep his novel a work of fiction. 

Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-17) has offered an amendment to remove Section 744 to retain the safety of our aircraft operations. Your help is needed to let Congress know that that a single pilot is not safe in commercial airline operations.

Contact your United States Representative's office in Washington by phone today and insist they act to:
Reject the Westerman Amendment to H.R. 4.

Please call:
Congressman Drew Ferguson (R-GA) at: 202-225-5901
Congressman Jason Lewis (R-MN) at 202-225-2271 

To Stop Section 744

You have no time to waste
Make that call today! 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Monday, April 23, 2018

Breaking News and More!

The Eastern Airlines Kitchen Table! 

Breaking News is First: 

And then the Fun Begins!

Eastern Airlines Brats 
are joining the show tonight!

If you're an Eastern Airline Brat, 
Call in and Join the discussion.

We are also looking for the person who tweeted the following statement to join the discussion: 

"As a kid I flew on EAL passes as the son of a captain- 
service charge $2 for coach, $4 for first class. 
I got very spoiled very quickly"

Call-in number is 
at 7:00 P. M. EDT 
or listen in by clicking the hyperlink:

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene 

Friday, April 20, 2018

B777 Captain

Friday's Fabulous Flyer! 

Captain Shem Malmquist

Captain Shem Malmquist is currently a B-777 Captain operating international routes. His broad experience ranges from teaching aerobatics and instructing in a wide variety of both general aviation and transport aircraft to academic research and safety investigation. His most recent work has involved approaches to risk analysis and accident prevention utilizing MIT’s System Theoretic Accident Models and Processes (STAMP). 

I met Captain Malmquist on LinkedIn, and he was extremely helpful in my data collection by sharing the link to my research: PetittAviationResearch. When I learned about his educational and safety background, his support made so much sense, and all the more appreciated. 

Captain Malmquist’s education includes a Masters (MS) degree in Human Factors in Aeronautics through the Florida Institute of Technology, a Bachelors of Science (BS) from Embry-Riddle University, and a Associate of Science (AS) through Mt. San Antonio College. He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a full member of ISASI, and a member of the Resilience Engineering Association, AIAA, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, IEEE, the Flight Safety Foundation and SAE where he also serves as a voting member of the Flight Deck and Handling Quality Standards for Transport Aircraft committee and is a member of the Aerospace Behavior Engineering Technology and the Lithium Battery Packaging Performance Committees. 

For your reading enjoyment, I would highly recommend to check out this link: 

He's also co-authored a book!

If we don't stand for something, 
We will fall for anything! 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Southwest Safety FAA Findings!

Safety Culture to Blame?

Could this Event Have Been Avoided?

The only way to create change is to stand up and tell the truth, despite the repercussions. However, sometimes individuals stay silent because they have families to feed and mortgages to pay and their careers are threatened. Thus, we needed a little government reform to help. Safety Management Systems (SMS) is an FAA mandate to improve safety. However, SMS demands a positive Safety Culture. Yet, without a Reporting and Just Culture, Safety Culture declines.

Southwest Mechanics Fired 

I received the following information from Attorney Lee Seham-- who fought on behalf of the SWA mechanics who were subject to retaliation for reporting maintenance issues. He also provided supporting documentation as attachments verifying the accuracy of this information. Thanks to Lee Seham, they resolved the Air 21.

But does anyone really win when a company fires an employee, harasses, or subjects them to a mental health review, because they speak out for safety? I think not. A negative safety culture keeps people from speaking out, similar to the fear of reporting at Allegiant

Heavy checks are conducted outside the US and the FAA does not evaluate overseas. The safety system becomes the mechanics when the aircraft return. But when the mechanics walk by an aircraft and see corrosion, then are told to look the other way or they will lose their jobs... where is our safety net? A question that should be asked is: Where was this engine last serviced? 

Outsourcing and The Degradation of 
Safety Culture at Major Airlines
By Lee Seham-Air 21 expert

Prior to the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act, the industry’s business model was that, in exchange for a purchased ticket, an airline provided a properly trained flight crew to operate an airworthy aircraft maintained by the carrier itself. The second half of this business model has been abandoned.

Deregulation prompted a frantic effort to reduce costs, which manifested in a number of dramatic fashions, including the creation of B-scale wages, the use of bankruptcy courts to abrogate collective bargaining agreements, and the termination of employee pensions. Under the proverbial radar, however, the major carriers also made the determination that they would, for the most part, no longer maintain the airworthiness of their own aircraft.

Federal agencies have expressed concern at the rate of this transformation and their inability to monitor the impact on aviation safety. Thus, in 2005 the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reported:

"In efforts to reduce maintenance costs, many airlines are increasing the amount of total maintenance that is performed by outside maintenance providers. In fact, major carriers now outsource an average of 53 percent of their maintenance expense, as compared to 37 percent in 1996."

In 2013, the OIG reported the trend continued to accelerate:

"Over the past 15 years, major U.S. air carriers 
increased spending for contract maintenance
 by nearly $2.7 billion.
 Industry experts expect this trend to continue 
as airlines increasingly attempt to cut maintenance costs 
and maximize profitability."

In response to congressional concern that the “FAA might not be well positioned to effectively carry out the responsibility of monitoring” the work performed by outside repair stations, the OIG conducted periodic audits of the FAA audits. 

In July 2003 and September 2008, the OIG reported that the “FAA’s oversight did not ensure that work completed at repair stations met FAA standards….” In 2013, the OIG again concluded that:

"FAA’s oversight of foreign and domestic repair stations 
lacks the rigor needed to  identify deficiencies
 and verify that they have been addressed"

"FAA does not have an effective system for accurate 
and timely risk assessment of foreign and domestic 
repair stations because of critical weaknesses
 in its repair station oversight process."

Still more recently, a 2015 OIG audit concluded that, even with respect to facilities located in the European Union (EU):

"FAA’s inability to fully evaluate foreign authorities’ 
capabilities, coupled with inspector training weaknesses,
 process differences, and data limitations, hinders 
FAA’s assurance that repair stations in the European Union
 receive quality oversight and maintain aviation safety."

Proper aircraft maintenance depends on the individual technician’s adherence to the standards and procedures mandated by the manufacturer. Irrespective of the technician’s skill, airworthiness cannot be met in legal environments where there is no oversight and the individual technician is subject to retaliation for reporting delay-inducing discrepancy reports.  Nonetheless, outsourcing to jurisdictions where the rule of law in the aviation context does not exist – China, El Salvador, Brazil, and Mexico – has mushroomed.

The operational consequence is that the dwindling population of carrier-employed technicians is confronted with an increasing volume of maintenance discrepancies and outright maintenance fraud with respect to aircraft returning from foreign and domestic repair stations. The result has been a ratcheting up of management pressure on technicians to turn a blind eye to aircraft damage that renders an aircraft unairworthy. In the last three years, the gravity of the situation at U.S. major carriers has been repeatedly recognized by the FAA.

Southwest Airlines, which has the lowest ratio of aircraft technicians to aircraft of any major carrier. FAA investigators have determined that Southwest suffers from a degraded supervisory maintenance culture, which manifests itself in the pressuring of the carrier’s Aviation Maintenance Technicians (AMTs) and Inspectors to subordinate safe maintenance practices to the carrier’s schedule. Moreover, the FAA has further determined that, in the last several years, Southwest’s practices have resulted in scores of aircraft operating in revenue passenger service in an unairworthy condition.

In a September 2017 report by the FAA’s Technical Aircraft Maintenance Branch addressing whistleblower complaints raised by Dallas-based Southwest maintenance inspectors, the FAA found that coercive conduct toward maintenance employees was having an adverse impact on “all forms” of the maintenance operations, including “troubleshooting, completion of work, inspections, technical support and training.” 

The FAA report provides a 
bone-chilling description 
of Southwest’s coercive culture:

"The motivation behind management questioning AMTs and Inspectors when they discover anything outside the scope of a maintenance task and the subsequent use of formal [disciplinary] fact-finding meetings which management utilizes to formally document an inquiry into airworthiness discrepancies, appears as a tool used to influence a relaxing of standards, to look the other way, or to gain a degree of approval through a leniency of standards. 

 The result of this pattern is a capitulation of airworthiness and a culture of fear and retribution. … The influence being utilized to pressure technicians and question findings influences the programs and reliability tracking of the aircraft both of which have a negative impact on the overall Continuous Airworthiness Maintenance Program (CAMP)."

The FAA reported that, despite the environment of intimidation, one inspector insisted on documenting damage to an aircraft’s flight control rudder balance weight that was “substantial,” but that, “rather than being praised for finding a serious airworthiness issue,” the inspector was “questioned as to how and why he came to notice” the damage. The courage of this particular inspector led to the fortunate disclosure of a “systemic” issue affecting fleet-wide safety:

"Although the carrier will point out the discrepancy was addressed, the impact to the employees and the overall maintenance organization arguably is impacted by the questioning. As noted above, this event led to the discovery of a systemic issue with the fleet and now has involvement with the carrier’s engineering and the aircraft manufacturer."

In a separate and independent FAA field investigation of the carrier’s Los Angeles maintenance operations conducted on September 20, 2017, the agency’s investigators reported that:

"All of the mechanics interviewed except two felt pressured and under scrutiny as to whether they were either doing their job correctly or if they were finding too many things wrong with the aircraft …." 

 “Mechanics are told, ‘Dallas is watching us’
 don’t make us look bad with delays.” 

 FAA investigators determined:

"There is the absence of a “Just Safety Culture”. Safety Promotion, a key part of an effective SMS [Safety Management System] seems to be deficient. There seems to be a lack of an environment of trust, effective communication and the willingness for employees to share mistakes, concerns or failure without the fear of threats or reprisal. This ultimately leads to a degraded level of safety that the SMS is trying to maintain at the highest possible level."

In response to whistleblower complaints by aircraft mechanics at Southwest’s Las Vegas maintenance station, an FAA determination letter, dated October 5, 2017, “substantiated that a violation of an order regulation or standard of the FAA related to air carrier safety occurred,” which required “appropriate corrective and/or enforcement action.” 

The FAA determined that Southwest had improperly issued a memorandum entitled “Cargo Door Handle Housing Assemblies” designed to accelerate the evaluation of delay-causing aircraft damage. The FAA’s regional investigators expressed their particular concern that “[Southwest Maintenance] Leaders did not remove it from circulation once aware of its existence.” 

Southwest’s deliberate violation of federal aviation standards is echoed in an FAA complaint in November, 2014, which alleged that the company had flown 44 aircraft in an unairworthy condition as a result of improper repairs to skin panels that undermined the structural integrity of the fuselages. 

The FAA determined that Southwest 
continued to operate the unairworthy aircraft 
for six months after the FAA had advised 
the carrier that the aircraft were non-compliant. 

The FAA also found that additional aircraft were rendered unairworthy by faulty wiring related to gray water drain mast modifications that were necessary to address the planes’ susceptibility to fires and electrical disruptions in the event of a lightning strike. Here again, the FAA determined that Southwest continued to operate these aircraft in an unairworthy condition even after it was discovered that the case ground wire terminal had not been properly relocated and connected. 

Maintaining safe aircraft in accordance with federal aviation standards takes time and money. Violating the law is faster and cheaper. As a result, AMTs at Southwest found themselves subjected to a Hobson’s Choice – jeopardize your FAA license or lose your job. In Las Vegas, when an AMT expressed concerns about retaliation in response to his reports of aircraft discrepancies, his supervisor responded:

“If you’re worried about your [FAA] license … 
write them up. …
 If you’re worried about your job, 
then I don’t know.”

Presumably in response to pressure from the FAA, Southwest has acknowledged in stark language that the carrier suffers from a maintenance culture that subordinates aircraft safety to on-time performance. 

On December 6, 2017, Southwest’s Vice President Technical Operations Trevor Stedke described a problem-plagued maintenance program that ignores its own policies and procedures and releases unairworthy aircraft into revenue service:

"We’ve had several examples recently. Everything from calls to the FAA in DC, to AD over flies, engine operation. We had a wing that flew around [that] was damaged from an unknown period of time with of course nothing documented.

We’ve been through a dent program. We’ve had several dents found to be non-compliant, re-worked without anything documented in our maintenance systems. Damage events, lockout, carryout.

And you all know that the list goes on and on about several things that examples of where we’re bypassing or policies and procedures and we have got to get that rectified and cleaned up if we have any hope of getting ETOPS and maintain ETOPS in the future."

Safety Culture at Fault

Stedke identified the degradation of Southwest safety culture as the principal culprit behind these safety lapses:

"There is a perception, I think from some, that all On Time Performance trumps compliance. And our expectation as a Leadership Team is that we really want On Time Performance higher than compliance. And what we speak to On Time Performance and measure On Time Performance. We say compliance but it’s kind of a wink, wink, you know, make sure you get the airplane out, and that’s, nothing can be further from the truth."

Vice President of Maintenance Operations Landon Nitschke describes Southwest’s maintenance culture in the same disturbing terms:

"And, you know, 
sometimes we hide our compliance issues 
under the Warrior Spirit, right?"

In order to placate the FAA, and obtain lucrative Hawaiian markets that require prior ETOPs approval, Southwest has proclaimed that 2018 will be the year that it repents of its unlawful past. As the Vice President of Technical Operations declared in December, 2017:

"So compliance effectiveness is going to be a new item on our dashboard this year. We’re going to set those measures and make sure that’s part of our metrics that are driving the right behaviors across the organization."

Confirming that the Southwest’s interest in safe aircraft maintenance is a freshly discovered value, Vice President of Maintenance Operations Nitschke has announced, literally, that Southwest will be singing a new tune in 2018:

"So big effort this year. We definitely need to repair some things with the FAA not only as a Company, but, I think, as people. I think there are some things with, you know, AMTs getting questioned. Supervisors certainly getting questioned. Those are things we want to get into. We want to make sure that we handle that at a Company level, so again, compliance, compliance, compliance is going to be our theme song for 2018."

Southwest concedes that this wrenching shift in gears – from pushing out planes to a genuine concern for safety – has left both management and Southwest AMTs in a state of bewilderment:

"We had a discussion in Breakfast Club, our morning Ops meeting, this morning. And I think [Southwest Director of Quality Assurance] Gregg Brown said it, we are all so confused in the room. It’s like well can you imagine what our front line Mechanics think? And so as Leaders, that’s what we need to correct. But to Trevor’s point, it goes throughout the organization all the way through everyone to make sure that we are compliant."

Safety Culture Is 
the Answer to Safety!

It's just so simple 
to do the right thing. 
One life lost is one too many. 

If you have been violated for reporting safety
contact me, I will point you in the right direction. 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

SWA Engine Failure

Never Expected 

From CNN

Pilots train for engine failures. We train for rapid depressurization. But do we train for the combination of both? Hopefully airlines worldwide will work this scenario into the next training program. 

Huge accolades to the pilots for bringing this aircraft to safety. The reason that we need pilots. The reason we need exceptional training. 

Prayers to the loss of a passenger, 
and to her family. 

Lessons Learned: 

Oxygen masks need to go over 
your mouth and nose. 

Ladies and gentlemen please watch your safety videos, you never know when they will come in necessary. Safety briefings are provided for a reason. 

This mask issue reminded me about the Allegiant 60 Minutes show where the comment was made during the smoke in the cabin.... 

"They didn't give us oxygen masks." 

If there is smoke in the cabin, you do not want oxygen masks. Oxygen masks to do not provide pure oxygen, but mixed with cabin air.  Therefore you would be breathing smoke through the mask. Also, if there is a fire, you do not want to feed the fire with oxygen. 

Equipment Breaks...
will you be ready?

This is a perfect example that equipment breaks 
and the reason we need pilots. 

This is also the reason pilot training 
is so important!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Airlines' Most Valuable Assets

Are the Passengers... 
Not the Slides.. 

Allegiant was in the news again. This time 60 Minutes addressing safety issues and numerous aircraft malfunctions and unscheduled malfunctions. 

The greatest safety issue is a safety culture 
that prevents pilots from coming forward 
and speaking out. 

These pilots fear for their jobs because the airline fired a captain for making a decision to evacuate. Allegiant's mistake... beyond firing this captain for doing his job... was also the thought process that deploying slides were more important than passengers. 

Engine Failures! 
Hydraulic Leaks! 
Rapid Depressurization! 
Smoke and Fire!

This is not initial training...
But real life!

One thing I can say for an airline with such an "aggressive business model" and maintenance issues such as Allegiant, is that these pilots are more than likely to be some of the best in the industry. The rest of of us only see these malfunctions during initial training (once in a lifetime), or recurrent... and that's in a simulator! 

While the startle effect is extremely difficult to train, Allegiant pilots are always on guard because they never know what to expect, and they must always be ready for something. What this means is an Allegiant pilot operates with an abnormal amount of stress, but this also would make them extremely alert. 

With all this said, on behalf of Captain Kinzer's decision to evacuate, he made the best decision possible, especially based upon the maintenance history of the airline. Captain Kinzer knew the history of maintenance at his airline, and the numbers of issues that prevailed daily. Based on this knowledge, his doing anything less would have been criminal. Safety first. 

Congratulations to Teamsters 
and Captain Daniel Wells 
for standing up to safety! 

Allegiant is not the only carrier that lacks a safety culture. Fear is rampant among many pilots, as speaking out results in many retaliatory tactics beyond being fired, and there are unions who look the other way. Safety Management Systems (SMS) are now mandated by the FAA. However, without a positive safety culture... And that means a reporting culture... SMS will be worthless. 

Anyone who has been fired,
 ordered to a mental health evaluation,
or simply harassed by line checks 
for reporting safety... 

Reach out. You are not alone. 
Help is within reach. 

If you See Something. Say Something! 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene