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Review of FAA Records Raises Doubts on Northwest

A newspaper reports that inspections indicate deficiencies since a mechanics' strike began.

October 03, 2005|From Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Reports filed by federal aviation inspectors during the first month of a strike by Northwest Airlines Corp.'s mechanics challenge assertions by executives that operations are running smoothly, according to a newspaper's review of the records.

In a story for Sunday's editions, the Star Tribune newspaper reported that the inspection records -- which were reviewed by two independent aviation experts -- describe training deficiencies among replacement workers, thin staffing, maintenance blunders and mistakes in recording repairs.

It cites one incident in which mechanics failed to find a dead bird in the engine of a jet about to leave Memphis, Tenn., but a co-pilot spotted it before takeoff.

In another case, it said inspectors watched replacement workers in Philadelphia work through the night to replace a brake. That job normally takes experienced mechanics less than three hours, the experts said.

The Star Tribune reported that Northwest declined to discuss the substance of more than 100 reports it obtained.

Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest said in a statement Sunday that it had told the newspaper that the company considered it inappropriate to comment on Federal Aviation Administration internal documents.

"Northwest remains confident in the quality of its ongoing maintenance program," the airline said. The statement also said the discovery of the dead bird came from the typical visual preflight safety inspection by the co-pilot.

Since the mechanics walked out Aug. 20, Northwest has used 1,200 replacements, a few hundred managers and outside vendors to maintain its planes.

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