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Walk around on a commercial plane - invalid?


Guest Cralis
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Hello.

 

Another question - may seem thick, but after learning about pre flights and the walk around. (I only know 8%.. I'm no guru, so please excuse me)

 

On a commercial flight, we see a co-pilot or captian doing his walk around the larger aircraft, checking things. On our walk around, we ensure that all external access doors are locked and secured.

 

Surely on a commercial flight the walk around should be done AFTER the catering chaps have left.. after the refueling has happened... after the cargo has been loaded? Because after the walk around, who knows what might get bumped... left unsecured ... left open...

 

There have been numerous crashes due to cargo doors not being closed correctly. So, why isn't the protocol of the walk around changed? Impractical as at the point everyone has left the side of the aircraft, the pilots are busy with other things?

 

This was just a thought that struck me when I was reading about the walk around in the train today. I mean, as a RA/PPL, you don't want people opening things, changing things, refueling... AFTER you have done the walk around?

 

 

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Hi Craig,

 

There's a few commercial and airline folks here so would expect them to offer some more educated thoughts than mine but here goes.

 

Most airliners are operating within a 30 minute turnaround window (or thereabouts) so there are a lot of folks attending to the aircraft to prepare it for the next sector. The thing to note is that all of these folks attending to various things are all trained and (for certain tasks) certified professionals. Operation of a large / complex aircraft requires the input of many, while the Captain or F/O conduct a walk around looking for obvious issues, they also require the assistance / input of many ground crew to facilitate the preparation of the aircraft. You can't rely on a single person in such a large & complex environment...that's why there are systems and people in place to assist the flight crew.

 

Cheers,

 

Matt.

 

 

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Thanks Matt - yeah, that's what I would have though. I'm just wondering why they don't just schedule the walk around to after everyone has left, as extra safety.

 

I'm originally from South Africa, and I know the ground people aren't well paid and not extremely proud of their work - and if I was in charge of an aircraft, I'd have a higher level of miss-trust going into Johannesburg, than a lot of other areas. I was lucky enough to sit in the jump seat for a few flights Johannesburg to Cape Town, and recall two issues. Once, the ground control told the pilot to continue to bay Alpha 5 after arriving Cape Town.

 

Polot taxiid there, but when they go to A5, there was no 'batsman' there. Instead, there was a chap with the bats at A6, holding his bats up. Pilots checked their notes and it said A5. The confirmed with each other... A5 it was. So they started turning into A5, where there was no bats man.

 

The batsman in A6 turned to look at the sign behind him, which was A6.. quickly jumped into his golf cart thing, and drove to A5, lept out and stood there to guide the plane. There were a few giggles in the cockpit - but this is the sort of think they deal with.

 

Another time, taxiing to the runway at Johannesburg, the polits witnessed a maintannece car drive right past a large cardbord box lying on a taxiway. Note - drove RIGHT PAST.. leaving it there. Pilots got on the radio informing someone that it really should be removed as someone is about to suck it in and possibly cause a few 'Rands' worth of damage.

 

Alas ... 099_off_topic.gif.20188a5321221476a2fad1197804b380.gif

 

 

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Logic.

 

Cralis, you have a point, and there have been instances where things were done in such a way as to cause damage to an aircraft after the walk-around was performed. IF an aircraft (even a large one) is bumped by a vehicle, it would be a pretty insensitive couple of pilots who didn't notice the event, even when seated in the cockpit.

 

ALSO, all doors/ compartments have lights/LED's to indicate indicate whether they are closed/open, and you are normally in contact with a despatching engineer (via intercom) prior to start-up who stays hooked up till all engines are running and is cleared to disconnect by the Captain. People involved are supposed to be trained for the job, but in a remote or non-compliant environment the PIC would decide if a further inspection is warranted. Undercarriage pins are left in till some of the cockpit checks are completed and then removed and sighted by the crew. There is still the odd time when they are left in place and the gear will not retract. This of course means that SOP's have not been adhered to.. Nev..

 

 

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in the larger jets i belive that the ground crew who is plugged into the cockpit under the nose wheel usually gives the all clear on hatches ect.

 

the pilot does a prefight similar to what you would do before you fly then he goes to the cockpit and completes the cockpit checks with the cpt whilst the final loading of the baggage ect is completed then the ground crew gives the all shut and clear and it is crosschecked on the warning lights. the ground crew usually unplugs after pushback.

 

ozzie

 

 

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Do you know if it is 2nd officer or captain doing the walkaround? If it is raining No 2, if it is a nice dry balmy evening, Captain.

 

As far as South African airlines go, it isn't only on the ground that they have problems. I saw the cabin staff let go of a dinner trolley, while the plane was in a fairly steep climb, I managed to drag it into the seat and stop its trip to the rear. The purser commented that it was impossible to get good black staff.

 

 

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All they are doing when they have do a walk around is look for large and obvious things wrong (wings missing sort of stuff) Adam.

Not as silly as it sounds... I read somewhere of a guy who did a preflight check, jump in, (a cessna I think) and took off down the runway only to find out that he had no RUDDER...:ah_oh: Someone had pulled it off to do some work on it....025_blush.gif.9304aaf8465a2b6ab5171f41c5565775.gif

 

Wouldn't you feel stupid....doing a preflight check and didn't even notice the rudder missing.....031_loopy.gif.e6c12871a67563904dadc7a0d20945bf.gif

 

Cheers...

 

 

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If you think about it logically, on a large complex machine, a walkaround is only going to expose major problems.. Some of the things that have brought down airliners are sticky tape covering static vents, doors locking into place but the mechanism not working properly due to poor design, microscopic hairline fractures of the bulkhead.. All these things would be near on impossible to detect by 10 captains walking around wiggling things. Thats why the systems are in place, as others have said it a many hands job and each one has his specific check to do.. The crew have quite a big preflight checklist to go through and this is where the attention of the skipper and his boy needs to be..

 

cheers

 

 

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I have one issue to raise, if a pilot doing a walk around checking a large aircraft and doesn't spot a pitot tube covered he needs re training in my part. The larger the plane the larger the pre flight. Yes the engineer needs to sign off but there is also a signature required by the pilot that needs to be there before anyone goes aanywhere. This check isn't just to see major things on the aircraft thats wrong. A simple thing like a kinked hose on a landing gear leg can cause a major issue. They are definately not a short walk around to look good for the public.

 

 

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Actually happened - the Cap't didn't notice the pitot (I think it was) covered by a piece of tape to stop the water getting in whilst it was being washed - I think that is how the story goes - in any case aircraft crashed and killed all

 

 

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BLA82, you're being a little harsh on the poor old Captain, if the tv documentary was anything to go by. I think we are all talking about the same incident, where an airliner crashed because a static vent was taped over, by the person washing the aircraft. The static vent on a 747 is three story's up, hence you'd need eagle's eyes to be able to even see the vent, let alone see clear tape over it. The aircraft washer man/woman/person was charged with manslaughter because he/she/it forgot to remove the tape.

 

Cheers

 

Ferris

 

 

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Yep, thats the one.. A shocking story.. The old swiss cheese thing.. Its an interesting (poor word i know considering how many people died) insight into just how bad things can get from a simple mistake.

 

Basically the IAS and VSI worked fine while in the ground roll, but as soon as they became airbourne things started to go crazzy. The alarms started screaming in the cockpit, both overspeed and stall warning together.. The AH still worked and engine instruments weren't affected. For some reason the crew decided to turn away and head out over the water (at night) thereby removing any ground referances.

 

Its a long story so i wont bore you , but, they ended up at 10,000 ft indicated. Now this is where it gets interesting. They allowed themselves to believe that the acft could be flying level with the engines at full idle. The IAS was obviously rooted and the altimeter was erronious so they relied on info from ATC. BUT.. the transponder gets its info from the altimeter so it was sending wrong info back to radar who were in turn telling the crew they were maintaining 10000ft.. They ended up flying a perfectly good acft into the water killing evryone on board.

 

Now, before you all start burning me up, i know its very easy to read the report (oe watch the show) and make judjments.. The acft was sounding 7 or 8 alarms at once and they couldnt shut them off.. obviously adding to stress.. Had they suspected a blocked static vent they may have had a chance, but they didn't.. so as soon as they turned away from the lights it was just a matter of time... The lesson i take from this case is "POWER PLUS ATTITUDE EQUALS PERFORMANCE"..When all is said and done that basic premiss of could have helped these poor guys...

 

So, yes, a peice of sticky tape on a 747 2 story's up in the air and only 2 inches long is easily missable..and the results can bring down the acft...

 

sorry for waffling

 

 

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BLA82, you're being a little harsh on the poor old Captain, Cheers

Ferris

Ferris,

 

My apologies no attack at the captain intended. Yes it was tape and hat was an isolated incident. My father is a 747 captain and I have ran this thread past him. His comment was that the pitot tube is clearly visable from the ground, if it was taped over they wouldn't have seen that though. My point was that there is more to a pre flight of a larger jet than just a simple kick pf the tires.

 

 

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It wasn't the pitot tube.. It was a static vent.. see, if it were a pitot tube then they woulndt have taken off. The IAS would have remained at zero on the takeoff roll and they would have aborted ( we all should check active IAS on ground roll).. but as it was a static vent, things appeared to be normal as altimeter works by comparing static pressure with the subscale setting and the IAS works by comparing dynamic pressure with static pressure.. so the static system held the sea level pressure, untill they climbed this would be impossible to pick up...

 

 

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It wasn't the pitot tube.. It was a static vent.. see, if it were a pitot tube then they woulndt have taken off. The IAS would have remained at zero on the takeoff roll and they would have aborted ( we all should check active IAS on ground roll).. but as it was a static vent, things appeared to be normal as altimeter works by comparing static pressure with the subscale setting and the IAS works by comparing dynamic pressure with static pressure.. so the static system held the sea level pressure, untill they climbed this would be impossible to pick up...

Sorry MM I used the wrong word. Thats the problem with trying to write a report for a board meeting and surfing the forum at the same time. Wheres the balance lol

 

 

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  • 1 month later...
Guest Ruprect

Might Bump this post in light of a news report I just saw. Qantas jet was seen taxiing with a damaged wing this afternoon. It was called back before takeoff only because ground crew saw the damage and alerted the captain. Lets not speculate but surely this couldn't be missed on a walk around. Will be interesting to see how this pans out.

 

 

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Remember the airliner that peeled it's roof off. A passenger saw the cracks when she boarded but said nothing as she supposed that the crew would have seen them and acted on them if they were important.

 

Never assume that the experts know what they are doing. I told the hostie on a Fokker Friendship that liquid was running out of the rear of the engine while we taxied. She looked at it and went away. Shortly after take off she came back and invited me up to the cockpit, where the skipper explained what the liquid was, some bleed fuel or something. Then let me sit in the co-pilots seat and hand fly it. A long while ago of course.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Rpt Walkarounds

 

First flight of the day the big jets have an engineer perform a walkaround, followed by either pilot. During the course of the day the pilot or first officer performs the check before every flight...

 

The final check before any flight is performed by the Pit Crew leader...checking for obvious flaws, all hatches closed and locked..etc

 

The most common problem I have seen identified during turnarounds is tyres..Chunks missing, treads worn beyond specs..etc

 

And as a ground handler I can assure you I always double check the secuirity of the baggage doors..

 

Several signatures are recorded on the paper work for the flight including the Crew Leader (who calculates the projected weight/trim for the pilots), Pit Crew Leader (who supervised loading the aircraft according to the trim), and the Captain.

 

 

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