Tuesday, 29 September 2009

AirAsia Safety - Part #2

How can the untrained eye of a passenger spot a wing literally popping at the seams at 20 meters, when a team of crack mechanics fail to notice it? 

It doesn't take a structural engineer to do the math. You do not plonk something the size of a Tony Fernandes inside a jet engine - unless it is fully powered up and sucking back at a million RPM - and dream that the mounts won't break loose at some point.

Jokes aside, the question is not why the wing and the engine need maintenance. They just do.The question is more one of how a commercial aircraft falls into disrepair and accumulates so many obvious faults & flaws without them being rectified. And assuming that maintenance is strictly enforced, who allowed it to reach this point, especially when AirAsia's PR Machine would have us believe their aircraft are thoroughly and regularly maintained. Clearly, not the case.

What caused the impact on the the wing that left the dirty 'skid mark' and damage to the wing? We all believe it happened in the workshop. As to exactly what 'it is', your guess is as good as ours. Obviously, AirAsia maintenance staff aren't versed in the use of logbooks, as they would have noted and rectified the manifold flaws in that case. You'll get an insight into what we suspect the reason is when we hear some brutally frank words from AirAsia board member, Connor 'Con' McCarthy. 



We have also contacted Tony Fernandes on his personal AirAsia blog and invited him to comment on this, so we will keep you posted as soon as we receive word. The last time we received any comment from AirAsia, indeed the only time, the staffer contended, "Sure, some pilots manage to do some crazy stuff on our flights, but they get their just punishments just as any other offender would when they do crazy stuff that affects others." We're sure readers will be fascinated to hear Tony's comments! 

"When you stuff equal parts kerosene and cargo into an aluminum tube and fly almost the speed of sound and navigate marginal weather and crowded airport areas for a living, smiling hostesses should be kept in perspective.

Whats more important yet invisible to the traveler in 14B is the preparation and logistics involved in this complicated dance we call air travel. One should care more about how well are they taking care of the airplane than the passengers."

Brian Gonzalez , Conde Nast Portfolio.com, 

Air Asia - The $3 Flight, Nov '07


So, let's take stock of faults on that aircraft - from what we our resident expert can tell us from the clips that we were handed. Before we do, we'd like to thank the passenger who passed us this clip. He explains that he took the video to the AirAsia information desk in Singapore Changi immediately following the flight, asking that they inform the pilot. He says that he explained the situation and then showed the clip to two AirAsia girls. They weren't remotely interested, blankly staring at the footage. If you have ever attempted to use AirAsia online booking and encountered problems, you'll know how helpful the AirAsia staff can be. These two must have failed the tele-sales zero personality test.

How can the untrained eye of a passenger pick up a wing popping at the seams at some 20 meters distance, especially when a team of crack AirAsia mechanics fails to notice, let alone repair it?  We have seals that haven't sealed the engine crud we see all over the pylon, courtesy of irregular, ill-fitting panels. Look at the tolerances between the panels and the sorry state of the riveting resembling a patchwork quilt. 

The mechanics have, however, been busy doing a bad job of camouflaging the  'skid mark' and trying to paint over the damage. Amongst all of that dust and what appears to be some oil-based spill, you'll observe the sections of paintwork have fractured and fallen away. Where once there was gleaming red paint, now we see rust.

So, we have the aircraft chattering, bending and vibrating away, rivets rattling loose and paintwork fretting. Should we be surprised to discover metal fatigue, evidenced by the 8" fracture on the engine pylon? 

Here's one of the holiest areas of an aircraft that has the rather hefty responsibility of holding the vibrating engine to the wing - and occasionally Tony Fernandes and his wallet.  Which brings us to the wing, conveniently enough. Observe a dozen rivets popping like corn, the skin beginning to wrinkle, with its aluminum yawning as the stresses of torsion hastens the day where it will be put out to pasture at the back of the AirAsia workshop.

Ironically, AirAsia treat their machines much like they treat their maintenance crew, which probably doesn't fill you with very much confidence seeing the standard of both  today.  It is our opinion that these workers are not approaching acceptable international standards - and they are certainly not accorded anything near what the international airline industry have legislated as minimum wages and work standards.   

But don't take our word for it. Let us introduce you to AirAsia's Connor 'Con' McCarthy.

"Connor McCarthy says AirAsia's operating secrets aren't so secret: a lot of small cuts on the cost side and a lot of incremental increases on the revenue side. A no-frills airline requires fewer staffers -- Singapore Airlines flies nearly the same number of passengers but has four times as many employees -- and Southeast Asia's labor costs are low. Regulations are more lax too; a Ryanair pilot can only fly 900 hours a year under European Union law, but AirAsia's crew can log 1,000."

Jeff Chu - Washington Post/Portfolio.com: Business Travel, Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Nicely put there, Con. It's lovely to see your respect for, well, fuck all. We've said it before, and fortunately we're not going to have to say it again, because we're simply going to link to the AirAsia article that exposes their frightening attitude to AirAsia safety. 

Safety Report - Part #2 HERE

1 comment:

AsiaShoppingTreks said...

Most recently, my wife and I were stranded in Abu Dhabi when AirAsiaX announced they were canceling service to/from Abu Dhabi in January this year. They didn’t notify us (their stranded passengers), until Feb 10th. Neither did they offer any accommodation nor answer our emails asking for help. We had to get back to Malaysia on our own. They won’t reimburse our additional expenses either.

They said they would refund the Abu Dhabi/Kuala Lumpur portion of our trip, but it will take them 30-50 days to process the refund. Such an attitude!

Watch out for these guys. If you are considering using AirAsiaX, It might be a good idea to develop a plan B... just in case.