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Boycott United Airlines ..

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
United Airlines just swung a deal to put their maintenance operations in China.

My comments are not based on patriotic, union or other political issues; they are however those of an ex military aircraft mechanic and my concerns are for one thing .... safety of the flying public.

In China, only supervisors have to be certified, not the mechanics that do the work. In the US, all mechanics have to take and pass a test administered by the FAA in their specialty such as airframes, hydraulics, electronics or power plants (engines).

Even after passing my military training, I did not qualify nor would I have probably passed these FAA exams; the FAA does not even recognize the six months of military training I had.

The last thing I want is some Bozo from China, Canada or the US of A or anywhere working on a plane that my adz is going to be on without a European or FAA certification.

Not to mention the Chinese have done such a wonderful in the pharm and toy industries of late.

Supervisor .... sure ... wake one up to check the work or keep watch over a crew of twenty to fifty ... and no drug or alcohol testing ...

Nah ... Just MHO ... but not me!
post #2 of 14
I read this and was appalled. I dunno ... too many things companies are skating by the requirements on and being permissive because they just look at the labor rate. Hopefully jets won't start falling out of the sky.
post #3 of 14
Wow, i will (boycott) after reading that. I hope other airlines don't follow that lead.
post #4 of 14
That scares the crap out of me. The whole family is set to go to Colorado at the end of March on United (using my frequent flyer miles). It will be my 9 and 8 year olds first trip on a plane.
post #5 of 14

?

It's highly, actually impossible for United to run it's maintenance dept out of China. The cost of flying the planes there is prohibitive to say the least. Not sure where their main maintenance dept is but I'll find out XMAS eve when I see a United pilot buddy of mine.
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by bayview View Post
It's highly, actually impossible for United to run it's maintenance dept out of China. The cost of flying the planes there is prohibitive to say the least. Not sure where their main maintenance dept is but I'll find out XMAS eve when I see a United pilot buddy of mine.
Yeah that doesn't really make sense at all. Also, as Yuki stated, with all the bad publicity that Chinese manufacturing has gotten lately a move like this would be certain suicide regardless of financial feasibility.
post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by bayview View Post
It's highly, actually impossible for United to run it's maintenance dept out of China. The cost of flying the planes there is prohibitive to say the least. Not sure where their main maintenance dept is but I'll find out XMAS eve when I see a United pilot buddy of mine.
You may be surprised. Virgin does a lot of its maintenance in Rome, New York, across the pond from its HQ. The Israelis are modifying military aircraft at the same facility.
post #8 of 14
You mean what's basically a union press release from the Teamsters who are trying to organize UA mechanics?

UA is far from the only airline doing this. By the way, does this mean you'd refuse to fly on Asian airlines? Do you refuse to fly on Airbus planes because they're made in Europe? Will you refuse to fly Delta when they pick up some of the made-in-China MD-90's they're planning to add to their 90's fleet?

Should I cancel my trip to Thailand because I'm flying Thai Airlines?

The mechanics and union supporters are up in arms against UA selling off parts of the company. That's a valid issue but I think they and their supporters are being alarmists by making it a safety issue. It's a bit ethnocentric to assume that only US-based union-organized mechanics can safely do the heavy maintenance checks.

Let's not forget the Northwest union mechanics a couple of years ago who deliberately caused mechanical problems to delay the customers and "punish" the company. They lost and lost big, their union was broken, and I'm seeing a lot fewer mechanical delays on NW planes.

What about Hong Kong-based (now part of the PRC) HAECO which according to this link has maintenance contracts for not only United but also Air New Zealand, Continental, Icelandair, Delta, Northwest Air Canada, and many others (examples I gave are just most of "western 1st world" airlines). Are you going to boycott all of those? Continental is arguably considered the best domestic US airline these days, at least among the legacies. They have outsourced heavy maintenance on their Boeing heavies (777, 767, 757) since 2004 to that company. As I recall, jetBlue has their major maintenance checks done either in Central or South America. (just checked - they use a Canadian contractor but also one in El Salvador) Are you boycotting them?

This isn't a safety issue. It's a militant union/economic disruption issue being touted to the uninformed public in the guise of an inflammatory safety issue.

Or if it is a safety issue, it's not just with any one airline - that horse left the barn years ago. Calls to boycott are naive IMHO. Do I think it's stupid financially for UA to sell its heavy maintenance facility and join so many other airlines already contracting out? Yes - might be a short-term 1 quarter bump but not a good idea financially long-term. Do I think it's a safety risk? No. In fact having my plane maintained by disgrunted US under-motivated never-can-be-fired no-incentive-pay all-union-workers-are-exactly-equal-by-seniority workers sounds like more of a risk to me.

Go ahead, boycott one particular airline. Leaves more open seats for me to redeem my miles for international business class trips!

-- Mark (100,000 mile/year UA and 25,000 mile/year NW flyer) happily getting on my next NW flight in 2 weeks and my next UA flight the week after that.


PS note to mods: Doesn't this topic belong in "Politics and Hot Topics", or at least in the Lounge? It's not really about Resorts. And it's not really about Travel from a ski perspective - it's about financial/political/safety discussions around a particular union/management dispute. For that matter maybe it belongs at Flyertalk.com instead of Epic.
post #9 of 14
What about China Airlines (Taiwan)?
China Airlines has one of the worst safety record amongst all airlines. Only earlier this month, one of its plane took off without closing one of the doors properly - almost another disaster.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Mark, call me old school, but I was much more comfortable with maintenance done by certified mechanics. Folks in Kansas took great pride in doing majors on the birds.

You tossed in the Airbus line .... this was clearly not a Boeing versus Airbus or Euro versus US rant.

And in the larger picture since you opted to expand on this, if maintenance is done in SA, other than routine go/no go items and "changing out the box", I like trained and certified folks doing the work.

The issue is doing major overhauls and annuals. The "big ticket" items, not topping off the fluids.

You are a frequent flyer, how many slats or flaps have you changed out? Pulled apart and packed any hydraulic pumps this week? How does your status as a frequent flyer have any bearing regarding line or maintenance ops?

I haven't seen a denial on CNN regarding any of the allegations made in the press yesterday regarding the certification issues? Don't you think the majors would jump in if the information is distorted?

Mark doesn't agree ... bury it in hot topics? Take note ... this section of the forum also states travel doesn't it?

Witness the fate of the DC-10 .. even certified mechanics screw up (AA flight 191), in addition to design flaws inherent in the aircraft itself. Quite a deadly combination and entering the age of composite materials and fly-by-wire, I guess time will tell regarding the hard edge of the learning curve.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuki View Post
Witness the fate of the DC-10 .. even certified mechanics screw up (AA flight 191), in addition to design flaws inherent in the aircraft itself. Quite a deadly combination and entering the age of composite materials and fly-by-wire, I guess time will tell regarding the hard edge of the learning curve.
I don't recall design flaws having anything to do with the demise of the DC10. The images of an engine falling off on takeoff killed that plane. The Air Force flies them still and loads it to the gills almost every time (aerial refueler) it takes off. One of the best safety records in the USAF IIRC.
post #12 of 14
Resorts, Conditions, & Travel is fine, if it's about travel. I do think that calling for boycotts is heading towards politics/hot topics, but I'm not a mod so what do I know. I'd say the same thing if it was a "Boycott Wal-mart", "Boycott K2", or "Boycott Colgate" if the rationale was about service or manufacturing in China - at that point it sounds like it's a hot topic.

Obviously I haven't done any plane maintenance. However, I do think that singling out one particular airline for this, when many others are doing their C checks in China or in other countries which don't require each mechanic to have an FAA cert, is a politico-economic issue. If so many airlines are doing this, why a "boycott United" thread? Only because the Teamsters are making a big deal about it.

To be fair, I'm reacting as a consumer of airline service, while you're reacting as an expert in the field. If we were talking about the offshoring of software engineers and H1-B visa use/abuse, our roles and perspectives might be reversed here.

Bottom line though is: This is already happening, being done by many companies (whether it's airline maintenance in your field or software/data engineering in mine). Writing your representatives, lobbying for particular law changes, increased supervision and standards, that's all fine. But choosing to boycott one particular airline because they're just one of the newest to moving C-checks offshore is like choosing to boycott one particular brokerage firm because they have programmers in India. Everybody has programmers in India now. And almost everybody is doing some of their heavy maint offshore or at least considering it. Why pick on one particular firm - unless there's a union agenda or some other political issue involved.

If you added about 5-15 more airlines to your "Boycott" title, then I'd consider it a fair but naive suggestion. Who would we have left to fly? Would cut down on a lot of ski trips!
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Only two small airlines still use the "Mad Dog" aka "Mogen David" 10's today for passenger service. Most of them were switched out to cargo when they mandated the gutting of the insulation since it was a fire hazard.

Design flaws like having the wiring along the forward edge of the wing; this was a critcal aspect in the fate of AA 191. When the #1 engine failed it took out the wires that commonly were located mid wing and when you listen to the voice recorder tapes (I have), there was crew confusion on what the problem indeed was. Identification of the nature of the failure was said to be critcal and the roll possibly could have been averted if .. if .. they had ID'd the problem.

The other salient design flaw was the one you see all the time on TV (UA 232), where when the discs from the #2 engine take out all of the hydraulic lines.

Mark, quite true regarding the other carriers and the trends, it was just the press coverage on United that got me to the keyboard. Overall safety is being chipped away at piece by piece and there many issues like bogus parts right down to common bolts and nuts that don't meet spec.

BTW, I do belong to (mostly lurk daily), on a few aviaton forums that deal with this stuff (most of the buzz is on the grounding of the P-3's over the past week), but Wikipedia does a pretty good job on a summary of major accidents and a particular hull type.
post #14 of 14
Yuki, you're barking up the wrong tree here.

You want certified machanics ONLY to work planes, lobby the FAA to mandate that. Otherwise, even if they don't out source the work physically, they can still hire non-certified machanics in any of their facilities. Don't think the Union can stem that tide unless it's required by FAA.

By the way, certified machanics cost more. So you won't get the same discount airfare. (fuel cost has gone up, BIG TIME, plane ticket will follow, just a matter of how quickly)
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