Alaska Air Mechanics Allege Pressure : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

SEATTLE (AP) -- Sixty-four mechanics at Alaska Airline's Seattle maintenance hangar told company officials they'd been ''pressured, threatened and intimidated'' to cut corners on repairs, prompting the airline to put a top manager on leave while it investigates.

Federal Aviation Administration and airline officials began interviewing the mechanics after the airline told the agency about the complaints, which came in a letter delivered to the carrier on Thursday.

Alaska Airlines also notified federal prosecutors and the National Transportation Safety Board, which is probing the Jan. 31 crash of Alaska Flight 261 off the California coast in which 88 people died.

NTSB Chairman Jim Hall said in a statement nearly all major components of the MD-80's tail section have been recovered and the agency announced the completion of its field study.

Hall also said investigators had found no grease on a crucial portion of the jackscrew that helped control the movement of Flight 261's horizontal tail stabilizer, long a focus of the crash probe.

A spokesman for the plane's manufacturer said the part normally should be lubricated, but he refused to speculate about what the NTSB finding might mean.

The Seattle Times reported on its Web site Friday that the mechanics' letter was triggered by concerns over a recent repair to the horizontal stabilizer and jackscrew assembly on an Alaska MD-80 jetliner.

The mechanics allege the plane was fixed properly only after heated discussions.

FAA spokesman Mitch Barker said the agency was aware there had been recent ''debate'' at Alaska Airlines over a horizontal stabilizer repair. He said the plane was returned to service in proper condition.

A draft of the letter by 64 mechanics quoted by the Times said workers were ''directed ... to do things specifically contradicting'' federal aviation regulations, and alleged they had been ''pressured, threatened and intimidated ... in the daily performance of our work.''

In a statement, Alaska Airlines said about 12 mechanics had been interviewed and that it would immediately ground any planes found to be potentially unsafe.

Robert Falla, the leader of the airline's Seattle maintenance base, was placed on administrative leave, the airline said. He could not be reached by telephone. His lawyer predicted he would be exonerated.

''Robert Falla has never knowingly allowed any aircraft to go into service that was not airworthy or (that) failed any safety standard,'' said a statement from his lawyer, Scott J. Engelhard.

The airline is already the subject of a criminal investigation over alleged maintenance violations at its Oakland, Calif., maintenance base.

A grand jury in San Francisco is investigating whether supervisors signed for repairs that weren't done or that they weren't authorized to approve.

AP-NY-03-17-00 2045EST< 

-- viewer (, March 17, 2000


I said it right along."FREE",unregulated Enterprise does NOT work.That's why the Entrepeneur that picks up Your Garbage,underbidding the legit Guy,cause he comes to your Door with a delapitated Truck,one Headlight hanging by its Wires,balled Tires,no Health insurance for it's Employees,illegally dumping and polluting the Countryside,driven by an imported Greaseball,that does not speak our Language.Solution...REGULATION and tough Prison Sentences for these Operators!!!

-- Victimized (Regulation@once.needed), March 18, 2000.

Geez, I've just got to correct this one, Victimized (G): it's "bald," not "balled."

De-regulation does not serve the consumer well. The only thing that keeps some companies honest (?) is the thought that a powerful watchdog is keeping an eye on their activities, and this statement applies to large companies as well as small.

A few nights ago CBC did a lengthy report about unhappy travellers with the aviation industry. When they complained to their various problem companies, they received "air miles" as a form of compensation. With no excuses, explanations, nor promises to change. Overbooking continues to be a growing problem. The only good news is that more and more sites are appearing online where dissatisfied air travellers can meet, exchange stories and news, organize and, perhaps, eventually lobby for change. However, the process is slow compared to what it might have been had de-regulation not occurred.

Your "imported greaseball" statement is racist and gratuitous, needlessly stereotyping. Many of the problem people/companies are homegrown in Canada and, I suspect, in other countries as well.

-- viewer (, March 18, 2000.

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