Friday, 26 March 2010

Engines that Fall Off Planes

This happened to a plane in our airspace recently and caused a great hoo-haa in the press.
There is always a lot of media hype when this type of thing happens and as my husband was an aircraft technician once I always ask him about it. He doesn’t find an engine ‘falling off’ anything to worry about as he agrees with the explanation offered by this local airline, that it is designed to do so in the event of a foreign object being drawn into it. As he points out, imagine the effect of a non-functioning 2-3 ton dead weight hanging on one side of the plane. (I for one have visions of it turning upside down!) He is also not over-impressed with the pilot’s correct handling of the plane thereafter as they spend many many hours on the simulators practising for just such an event. We should also be reassured by the number of back-up systems that exist on all planes. My husband is an old-school trained technician when the apprenticeship was 5 years, and you should have seen the mountain of manuals he had to know for the exams. In those days, technicians were expected to know how to fix every single system on the plane. One year he flew ‘flying spanner’ 12 times to London and back. All he took with him was a multi-grips, a Phillips screwdriver, a common screwdriver, a torch and a roll of high-speed aluminium tape. You could fix almost any problem with this kit he maintains. Just one thing more - I remind him - a couple of towels from first class. I remember the story of when a hole developed in the fuselage of one of the leading flaps. He stuffed this with some of the afore-mentioned sturdy towels and patched the hole with the tape much to the horror of an old lady sitting watching through a cabin window. Not only did the plane get home safely on that trip - it flew another 4 long haul trips to London before it was permanently repaired!

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