State of the Airlines

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Airlines and the Aging Aircraft

Reuters posted an article today regarding growing resistance to the FAA's efforts to impose new inspections on aging aircraft. That the FAA would be working on an expanded aging aircraft program should not be a surprise. After all, airlines, aircraft manufacturers and the FAA were taught a brutal lesson on the effects of structural aging and corrosion when an Aloha 737 lost a chunk skin while airborne back in 1988. So the idea of trying to head off future issues related to aging aircraft would certainly be prudent. Why would the airlines fight it?

It's not just an argument about cost which, as usual, the FAA is under-estimating. However well-intended their efforts are the FAA needs to step back and review how these good intentions turn into needlessly complicated nightmares. The airlines don't want to avoid the issue. In fact, addressing the issues head on normally results in more reliable aircraft. Airlines simply need programs that can implemented and managed efficiently.

Reuters is also missing a couple pieces of the aging aircraft puzzle. It's not just about aging structural elements. They should be talking about aging wiring and aging systems as well. These will become increasingly important as well.

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