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Boeing has Another Tough Day

A United B777 has a catastrophic engine event yesterday, causing some to wonder whether there's more to come as we start taking aircraft out of the hiding spots. In my experience, aircraft want to fly and don't take too kindly to being on the ground at any time.

You make money with a commercial aircraft to operate it 20 hours or more per day, minus necessary maintenance. They are designed to take such flying rates, and that's why we need ten crews per airplane to make the system functional and affordable.

The same day a B747 in Europe had a similar uncontained catastrophic failure of an engine. So is this coincidence, or is it related to parking airplanes during the virus? You see, we haven't had this many aircraft parked for this long in our industry. There have been seasonal aircraft rotations for a long time but never as many aircraft parked for so long.

Could this be a sign of things to come? Do we have a handle on how to take large aircraft out of long periods of inactivity safely in large? I know that when I watch pilots who have not touched a real plane for nearly a year take training, it is a big challenge for them. Yes, they are getting monthly training opportunities, but there is nothing like real flying.

We are approaching a time in our industry's history where maintenance is challenged to get the aircraft online quickly. Pilots and cabin crew are asked to jump back into operation after a long period of no flying. What I see is an elevated level of risk in even the once mundane activities. I see a heightened level of pressure placed on all areas of operations to get back out there and make money.

Today I see that some airlines are calling back furloughed pilots. Having been through a layoff and bankruptcy a time or two, I would like to remind those called back to do so without animosity toward the airline. Having a poor attitude due to your animosity will only cause an increased threat to your safety and those that fly with you. Remember, everyone did what they did to survive. The fact that you're being recalled is a testament to the fact that their plan worked.

So proceed with caution into these coming months. Be realistic about your abilities and the threats out there in the days to come. Be good!

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