Monday, January 12, 2009


Reliability considered to be a table stake in the airlines industry. Something you have to have if you want to play the planes game at all.

I had a flight to Toronto a couple of days ago which I can describe as very fascinating and enlightening.

My flight was scheduled at 8AM and I arrived to Ottawa International airport around 7:10AM. After checking in and passing required security checks I was waiting to board my plane. Almost immediately after I begun to wait, airport intercom said:
- If there is anyone willing to board an earlier flight to Toronto, you can do so.
Well, fine. It is better to be in Pearson earlier than waiting in Ottawa. So I boarded a flight which was supposed to take off 25 minutes earlier.

As soon as everyone has boarded, they closed the doors and started to move the plane. When, suddenly, boom! I'm observing a lot of smoke coming from a back of the plane. The plane stops very hard, almost instantly. I can smell partially burned jet fuel. A minute later a fire extinguisher machine comes and stops a few meters from us doing nothing. I'm watching people becoming more and more curious (is the plane on fire? is it time to jump off the plane to avoid being cooked?). The pilot says:
- It seems that we've got some electronics snag here, let me try to reboot the on-board computer to see if that fixes the problem.
Now, that's cool. Ummm... Windows embedded or what? A couple of minutes later pilot comes again:
- It looks like our problem still persist, so I'm going to power off the entire plane and then put the power back on, let's hope it will fix our problem, because usually it does.
If there is a moment when you start thinking whether you should be sitting on the plane at all, it seems to be it. Some people has already stood up and clearly wandering how they can get off the plane. This is really a time when stewardess can help everyone:
- We were trying to figure out if there is a possibility to board the other plane but, unfortunately, all morning flights are extremely busy.
What a perfect argument to keep the plane's doors closed. The plane backs to life as pilots recycled the power...
- It looks like our problem was solved, so we are going to proceed for takeoff...
Why do I have that strange feeling that it would better be not solved so we can board off? Anyway, they are starting to move us again... When, suddenly, boom! I'm observing a lot of smoke coming from a back of the plane. Here we go again, a fire extinguisher machine comes. That's enough, who can show me the exit? The pilot:
- It appears that our problem reoccurred again, the brakes applied without anything telling them to apply.
Let me think what would happen had the brakes applied on a runway itself... not a rocket since.
- We are going to call the maintenance to see if they can fix the problem, it should take around 25-30 minutes...
Right, while they are calling the maintenance, I'm watching my flight taking off... Some guy comes in and disappears under the plane.
- It looks like maintenance fixed the problem and after they'll be done with a paperwork, we can proceed for takeoff...
Read the book, as Gordon says, if you don't do scheduled maintenance then the plane will schedule one for you. Trying to save costs? I have no doubts you can make service to be so cheap that no one wants to use it. Well, at least they gonna miss one of their KPIs, arrival on time, so there is a hope someone is going to do something about it...

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