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Passenger Avoids Delay By Fixing Plane Himself 178

It would be a shame if an engineer on a recent Thomas Cook Airlines flight doesn't get a complimentary first class upgrade every time he flies. The engineer was on flight TCX9641 when it was announced that the trip would be delayed eight hours, while a mechanic was flown in to fix a problem. Luckily for the other passengers, the engineer happened to work for Thomsonfly Airlines, which has a reciprocal maintenance agreement with Thomas Cook. After about 35 minutes the man fixed the problem and the flight was on its way. A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook said, "When they announced there was a technical problem he came forward and said who he was. We checked his licence and verified he was who he said he was, and he was able to fix the problem to avoid the delay. We are very grateful that he was on the flight that day."


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Passenger Avoids Delay By Fixing Plane Himself

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  • That's a problem.. just thought I'd show my ID and let you know I could fix it.
  • I imagine if he had tried to pull that in the US he'd be colling his heels naked in a TSA holding cell by now.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by scubamage ( 727538 )
      My thoughts exactly. DHS has shown numerous times that its illegal for a civilian to be on the tarmac by arresting veterans, photographers, off-duty DHS agents, school children, cats, dogs, and other domestic terrorists (I'm only partially joking). Seems strange to me that they make an exception for this gentleman - going so far to allow him to actually work on a plane while off duty.
    • by jav1231 ( 539129 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @01:42PM (#28596865)
      Actually, union rules would have forbidden him from touching the plane in the U.S. even if were an American in that union.
      • by afidel ( 530433 )
        Note that the two airlines had a maintenance agreement so it's likely he could have worked on the plane unless the union rules were particularly bad.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:42PM (#28597755)

          Doesn't matter if he _could_ work on the plane. Many union rules forbid unscheduled activity. In effect, this guy took away 8 hours of pay from his union brother.

          What if he got hurt while working on the plane? Would the airline claim responsibility? His employer, even though the were not paying him for the labour?

          I'm not saying what he did wasn't sensible, but when you're dealing with unions and bureaucracy you must discard all common sense and reasonableness first.

          • by darthwader ( 130012 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @04:22PM (#28599031) Homepage
            First of all, many small airlines are not unionized. And even if they are, emergency maintenance is unscheduled by definition, so any union agreement would allow the company to send in the first qualified mechanic they could find. Secondly, what makes you assume the work was unpaid? I think it is reasonable to assume his company, Thompsonfly, approved the work under the existing cross-maintenance agreement, and that the AME was paid for the work just as if he was the on-call mechanic and got the phone call from his company dispatcher. He was probably paid the standard "callout" rate for his 1/2 hour work. They had to verify his identity and his credentials, which means that Thomas Cook Airlines needed to phone Thompsonfly for that information. Since they had them on the phone anyway, it's reasonable to assume they also got his company to authorize the work and assign him to the job.
          • by badasscat ( 563442 ) <> on Monday July 06, 2009 @04:31PM (#28599173)

            Doesn't matter if he _could_ work on the plane. Many union rules forbid unscheduled activity. In effect, this guy took away 8 hours of pay from his union brother.

            His "union brother" works a standard work week regardless. He'll just be working on a different plane. There is no shortage of work for airline engineers.

            And the repair took 35 minutes, not 8 hours. The 8 hours was presumably to fly an engineer in. He likely would not have been paid for all that time (he would have been paid for "flight time" but not his full transit time, which is what the 8 hours refers to).

            What if he got hurt while working on the plane?

            Covered in the maintenance agreement.

            I would like to point out that various airlines have maintenance sharing agreements in the United States as well. The industry wouldn't work otherwise. Imagine an airline that flies just one or two flights into an airport per day - as many do to many airports - but having to have a full maintenance contingent at every one of those airports. Talk about inefficiency...

          • by omb ( 759389 )
            After Obama is done, presumably in 7 years, you need to find a Margret Thacher to deal with your unions.
      • Actually, union rules would have forbidden him from touching the plane in the U.S. even if were an American in that union.

        Skeptical. Reference?

        • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @03:26PM (#28598333) Journal

          I can't give you a reference on that but I can tell you I was reprimanded and almost fired from a factory job where I assembled cartons for glass packaging. We had to cut strands of the cardboard away from the boxes to deal with mismatched cartons. Anyways, one day the shavings and cuttings were getting particularly heavy and started to create a hazard where the floor became slippery and presented a tripping hazard. I picked up a broom and swept the cuttings away from my work area and the shop steward started jumping my ass because they paid someone else to sweep the floor and I was taking his job away. I was told I was getting wrote up over it. I went off on the guy and the floor supervisor when he backed him up.

          I quit the job before the reprimand could go through. That's my experience with a union and it backs the idea put forth by the GP. Of course every union will be different but I'm not sure if in this area. Unions are about getting money for people at the expense of the business, not saving the business money.

          • by digitalhermit ( 113459 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @03:59PM (#28598747) Homepage

            I worked at UPS in the Technology Support Group some years ago. One day I was in Naples, FL training employees how to scan packages using a new tracking system. I was standing next to an employee and showing him how to hold the scanner (distance from package, laser placement etc.). So I take up a letter, scan it, then put it into a bin to get processed. Soon as I do this, two very large guys walk up behind me. "What are you doing?" they ask. Because they're in suits, I think they're some managers. I explain that I'm showing the employee how to use the scanner. "I saw you load that package," one guy tells me. Not familiar with all the vagaries of union rules, I say, "Yes, just a couple." I'm thinking that they want to make sure I put it in the right bin or something else. "What are you doing touching packages?" they ask me. I really didn't know what to say because I was really confused by his question. Luckily an actual manager rushed up at that point to straighten out everything.

            I hear later that not being an hourly employee, I am not allowed to touch packages. This is doubly true when union reps are standing behind me.

            I'm not particularly fond of many of the managers at UPS as they would do things that I thought were just as shady. For example, managers would instruct the belt supervisors to stagger the start times on each employee working a conveyor belt. The reasoning was that packages would get to the rear of the belt several minutes after they hit the front of the belt. But they wouldn't tell this to the employees. The employees had to be in their area and ready to work at start time (around 4AM), but because of the stagger, would be cheated out of 30 minutes to an hour each week. I.e., show up to work at 4AM and you won't get paid until 4:20AM but you need to be prepared as soon as the belt starts up.

          • by Bertie ( 87778 )

            I must say that as a British citizen I was amazed at the power unions have in America. Prior to dealing with them, my perception had always been that labour laws in America were much more lax than ours, and that people got screwed by their employers left, right and centre. What I didn't expect was that the unions, where present, would more than make up for this by being chokingly overbearing.

            I was working for a company who were developing systems for guiding US Marine mechanics through repair procedures.

            • by KillerBob ( 217953 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:00PM (#28600367)

              the reason unions have so much power in the US is because the labour laws are so lax. in countries with strong labour protection laws, like most of Europe, Canada, Australia, etc., the government has been set up to protect the workers. Unions aren't needed as much, and so they do not exert their power... truth be told, I have never worked at a company that was unionized, because unions are dying a slow death in this country (Canada). Outside of the federal government and manufacturing sectors, most people are not unionized any more. who needs collective bargaining when we have public health care benefits, labour laws that say you can't be fired without cause and that you're entitled to severance if you've worked there more than 90 days, and a wealth of other fundamental rights that have traditionally been fought for by unions?

              In the US, though, things are different. Employers have much more power that they can exert, and as a result, the employees need to exert more collective power. It's protectionism. For starters, look up what it means to live in an "at will" state: you can be fired at any time, with no notice, no severance, and without cause. they need unions in the US, and so the unions exist, and they exert power.

              • Quite insightful.

              • Unions are dying a slow, painful death [] here in the US too.

              • n the US, though, things are different. Employers have much more power that they can exert, and as a result, the employees need to exert more collective power.

                So....your argument is that employees have too much power over companies, because companies have too much power over employees?


                There's just layers of ignorance and government co-dependency there.

                Let me add something to the mix for you:
                The company can't move to another place without this sort of union abuse because federal laws prohibi

          • You do realize that these situations were completely different, right?

            In the factory, it makes sense to not have you sweep, since you can't do your real job while you sweep. Your problem was the sweep guy wasn't getting his job done. When you cover for the sweep guy, he's able to slack off more while you get less done.

            As for this situation, it's pretty clear from the article that the airline assigned this guy to do the repair work on the other airline's plane as part of their agreement. The tech will hav

            • Well, actually, no. I didn't sweep up, I swept it out of my road. The sweep guy still had plenty to do (wherever he was) as it all was around the perimeter of my workspace. My guess he was the one gluing the boxes together on the line before me because they were all fcked up. And I'm not going to risk personal injury to protect someone's job who wasn't doing it. That's a lot to ask of a person and it never should be done in a work place around conveyor belts, sharp knives, and moving machinery.

              If it wasn't

          • by Atario ( 673917 )

            Unions are about getting money for people at the expense of the business, not saving the business money.

            Yes, and the business is about getting money for itself at the expense of anyone it can, including the employees, not treating employees fairly. What's your point?

        • An anecdote:

          One of my coworkers was at a warehouse type facility and needed to put his laptop on the bench area to troubleshoot a problem. There was a box in the way, so he picked it up and moved it to another pile of boxes a few feet away. He got reprimanded for his behavior (although not formally as we don't work for that facility, they are our customer), because he took work away from the box-moving people.

          With that behavior, I find it very plausible that he wouldn't have been allowed to work on that pl

    • Assuming the teamsters didn't get to him first.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by gubers33 ( 1302099 )
      Nah it has been over 24 hours, he would be in Gitmo by now.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @01:17PM (#28596487) Journal
    First they took away all the food and gave us peanuts. Then they went all the way and said, "Bring your own food". Now bring your own technician. What next? Bring your own pilot?
  • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @01:19PM (#28596523) Journal

    The article quotes Keith Lomax as saying "It was reassuring to know the person who had fixed it was still on the aeroplane" which strongly implies Lomax is not the engineer. No other individual is named.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by pete-classic ( 75983 )

      John Galt.


    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 )
      The quote should probably read:
      "It was reassuring [to the other passengers] to know the person who had fixed it was still on the aeroplane"

      The sentence just above that talks about applause from the other passengers.
      • Replying to myself:
        On second read, Mr. Lomax appears to be just some dude on the plane, and not the repairman.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dare nMc ( 468959 )

        Seams like a excellent new procedure for any major repair; from now on the lead mechanic that works on a plane, must be on the next flight with their first born, or some equally important family member.
        That's what happened with a co-worker who repaired hand held mine detectors in Vietnam. The field Sargent asked him if it was fixed, then physically drug his (very unwilling) ass and the detector to a live mine field to prove it. It made him a very through technician, even to this date.

    • It doesn't imply that. It was either a slip-streamed quote from the stewardess (as mentioned in the preceding paragf), or a pompous use, by Lomax, of the third-person to generalize a specific narrative into an aphorism.

    • Yup, there is an errorinsummary. I wonder if they compensated the dude.
  • Hrm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Steauengeglase ( 512315 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @01:22PM (#28596573)

    Shouldn't you get the death penalty for something like this? Seriously, this malcontent took work from airline repairmen. That is almost like eating babies. I say death to the traitor.

    • Re:Hrm (Score:4, Funny)

      by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @01:59PM (#28597105)

      No, no, this is win-win. The reason that it was going to take hours to fix was due to the technician's union mandated 5 hour coffee break. Since the other guy was already there, the first guy didn't have to leave the coffee shop.

      Don't worry, neither of the poor technicians was denied their 100 dollars/hr rate, they both still got paid time and a half for their efforts. The airline was just happy that they could leave almost on time for once.

      • by ScoLgo ( 458010 )

        "Don't worry, neither of the poor technicians was denied their 100 dollars/hr rate"

        I know you're trying to be funny, (and apparently succeeding!), but, a good friend of mine works as an airline repair tech. He makes ~$25.00 per hour.

        Maybe some airlines pay $100.00 per hour, but not the one he works for.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SheeEttin ( 899897 )
      You say that in jest, but you pretty accurately summarized most unions' stance on labor.
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      Don't worry, our noble unions men are already preparing to give him the standard scab treatment. Once they get the brick to through his plane's window, they'll teach him!
  • No, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express....

    During the flight he delivered a baby, performed a partial liver transplant, devised an experiment to test string theory, rescued Schrodinger's cat from the "box of death", and helped the elderly Fitzsimmons sisters join the "mile high club".

  • Bad summary! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dzfoo ( 772245 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @01:30PM (#28596667)

    Keith Lomax was not the engineer who fixed the plane. From the article:

    Holidaymaker Keith Lomax, from Stirling, was travelling home from a week's break with his wife when the plane's captain announced the expected delay.

    "We were in the plane, ready for take-off, when he announced there was a technical problem and that an engineer might have to be flown out from Manchester to fix it," he said.

    "Then a stewardess told us there was an engineer on board and they were checking out to see if he could work on it. He was obviously successful. When he came back onto the plane there was a round of applause from the back of the aircraft.

    Keith Lomax is just a passenger, on vacation with his wife, who witnessed the event and talked about it to the reporter.

    Jeez! now not even the submitters are R'ingTFA!


    • Damn man! They were trying to preserve his identity and you blew it!
      Now MacGyver is exposed! Thank-you-very-much! All these years of hard work trying to infiltrate him in an undisclosed terrorist cell for nothing!

  • Swords to mutitools :-)
  • lol (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hurfy ( 735314 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:37PM (#28597681)

    been there, done that.

    more or less :)

    I got drafted by our airplane mechanic a couple times to help as i was the only one who could reach the other end of a bolt. Apparently the license test for a mechanic neglects to include a test for double jointedness.....

    As long as the dude fixing it is going to fly on it i am all for it. After a couple major repairs on my dad's plane he would take the mechanic along on the 1st flight. Since he got on board we figured the front gear would come down this time ;)

    Our little flight school had some crack people tho. The chief instructor got an ovation from the tower bringing in a fast little twin with no nose gear. Dead stick, both props feathered and moved with the starter out of the way...only scrapped up the nose a bit. Well, as little as sliding aluminum onto concrete at 50mph can be...

    • by Intron ( 870560 )
      I was once at a one-slope ski area in Pennsylvania when the rope tow broke. I offered to splice the rope and got them running again. They gave me a free pass, but I never went back.
    • Dead stick, both props feathered and moved with the starter out of the way...only scrapped up the nose a bit.

      Most insurance companies will terminate your policy if you try that crap. They may appreciate the $20,000 you saved them, but they aren't about to let you put millions at that level of risk again.


      • by hurfy ( 735314 )

        hehe, just a little Cessna 310 albeit a fast one. Charters and training and noone else onboard at the time and lots of runway but still took some nerve. Did so little damage they got the ok to drop and lock the gear and fly it back a few miles for repair (without retracting gear obviously)

        We gave her a hard time (in jest) as it was insured for more than cost ;) Both engines and the nose probably would have totaled it back then (quite some time ago)
        So would have the repair, as we also owned a repair facility

  • by microbee ( 682094 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:54PM (#28597925)

    It's nothing, just push the 'reset' button, and tell the pilot 'no more porn on the plane computer!'

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin