What's Going on with All These Planes?

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AA planes got so grounded.

AA planes got so grounded. Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

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American Airlines and Delta grounded hundreds of planes today in order to perform safety maintenance re-inspections. This, two weeks after Southwest Airlines knowingly flew passengers on over 40 jets that hadn't undergone inspections. Not surprisingly, confidence in airline safety has waned as a result. Jim Hall, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, warns:

The safety we know in this decade is a result of a whole lot of accidents that occurred in the 1990s that were investigated and, because of them, changes were made in the system... If this [current] culture continues, then we could face another rash of accidents in this decade.

John Goglia, a former member of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, will join us today to answer our questions about plane safety and routine maintenance inspections. Got a question? Leave it here.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

While Mr Goglia was very factual the second guest who is developing a web site tracking airplanes was absurd. His response about a plane flying between DC and SFO possibly being maintained in an Islamic country is alarmist and wrong. Alarming potential flyers to this issue in this way was wrong. Stick to the facts.

Sent by Brian Ford | 4:03 PM | 3-27-2008

Delta and American Airlines??? planes are both being maintained by HAECO, a 3rd party maintenance base in Hong Kong. This is the same base that maintains the planes for Northwest Airlines. Last summer a former NWA mechanic and documentary film crew (directed by myself and Melissa Koch) traveled to Hong Kong to meet the workers there, as well as interview top brass at the facility. This lead to another journey that will commence this spring to Xiamen, China and possibly Singapore, as the work in Hong Kong is now being outsourced once again to cheaper bases. This chain of outsourcing brings up not only questions of safety, as covered by your program, but also questions about globalization and the future of the American Worker. How can we address this? How can the worker become involved in the dialogue so that this doesn't become just another case of wealthy upper management benefiting financially from the mistreatment and disregard of their employees both in the US and abroad?

We would love to talk to people who have information regarding these issues or who are interested in seeing this story fully explored by the independent media. As one of the directors of this film, I can be contacted through the film's website at www.redtailmovie.com.

Sent by Dawn Mikkelson | 4:40 PM | 3-27-2008

My flight was canceled yesterday due to these arbitrary FAA inspections. Ridiculous - you can't tell me that suddenly all of the MD 80 planes are going to fall out of the sky at once. This was nothing more than bureaucratic absurdity. The inconvenience and aggravation was far more costly than the minimal risk of a problem with these planes.

Unfortunately, this is typical of the government's pathetic approach to running our air industry. None of these idiots are accountable to the taxpayers. I lump them in with the subhumans that subject you to inane security.

Sent by Zack | 10:56 PM | 3-27-2008

I just came from the FAA website trying to check on the officals in charge. I get a "page not found message" from their link, figures. I'm trying to confirm that none of the recent heads of the FAA had any experince as a Pilot or a Mechanic. How can someone who never did the work dictate how things get done? Were they appointed because they did not have a clue and weren't expected discover how bad the agency was being run. No wonder things got so screw up and work is going overseas, which is a bigger security risk than my shoes.

Sent by Tom | 11:56 AM | 3-28-2008

Someone tell me what is more irresponsible, letting the airplane maintenance situation get so far gone, or bringing the air industry to near collapse by not scheduling these maintenance repairs on a rotating basis? My 80 year old stepfather's flight was canceled three times in the last 24 hours, and I've been on hold with American Airlines,waiting for assistance for over two hours (it is half past midnight)...NOT one phone call to us canceling any of these flights, and it is stunning that there isn't ANYTHING on their website about the entire situation... I heard a few hours ago on the news that without a travel agent you aren't getting any help, and now I believe it! So much for his long awaited trip!

Sent by Alex | 3:30 AM | 4-10-2008

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