Sunday, March 4, 2007

Did I tell ya I nearly killed myself?

"I hate airplanes" and "...I nearly killed myself" should have been inverted. At least chronologically.

Last week, Friday and Saturday were Tire Change Hell.

"I want THREE guys on this airplane!"

OK. For?


I'm looking at this plane. A Hawker 800XP. I figure three guys must mean a complete five tire job or at LEAST the four mains.

(TECH NOTE: It's easy for a pilot to put big flat spots on main tires. You steer planes with your feet and your steering pedals actuate the brakes too. Say, You are Luke Duke. You make the impossible leap over the whatever. The General Lee is airborne. Your foot is on the brakes. Car is flying. Car touches down. Now, you are dragging the tires across the pavement because they weren't turning as fast as the car was going. Anti-lock brakes don't care at that point. The wheel sensors only try to keep wheel speeds equal. 4X0=0!)

Can you say, "Eight way fornication with a goat?"

So, five tires? Four? NO! TWO!! Three mechanics. One QA guy. One Parts guy!!! TWO FRIGGIN TIRES!!!! Add to that, a mechanics worst nightmare kinda pilot... a Pilot with mechanics licenses and a snotty attitude that insists on getting his hands dirty, a little. And an equally useless Service Manager, dirty, but just a little.

It's a story in itself. That was Friday afternoon and I got off work an hour and a half late.

Saturday. It's just us weekend guys. Not much going on. None of the management induced chaos of Monday - Friday. We're moving along. Two of us on one plane and one on another King Air.

At 1430, tire change on the other King Air.

Can you Invert the eight way goat fornication?

Four tires, One mech. No parts researched or ordered. Airplane is not on jacks. Gotta be finished before the goat goes home. Have ya guessed who the goat was?

We get her up on jacks. I 'started' pulling valve cores. Gathered up the parts, tech data and etc. I pretty much broke the steps down to wheel by wheel. Do 'this' four times, do 'that four times' and on an on.

In a rush...

A hurry up offense. A rush of any sort has ABSOLUTELY NO PLACE IN THIS BUSINESS AND I KNOW IT!!! I don't care what your schedule is. I don't care what my schedule is. Paying more attention to the clock than to the task for whatever reason can get me or someone else(s)

Rookie Mistake. Complacence. In a rush to finish.

These wheels are "Split Rims." Two halves held together with eight bolts. They take something like 85 psi to support the plane. (The 350 is 85 +2 -2 psi)

Ya know, I really thought I was paying attention. I had my knowledge and experience, my tech data... I had a rhythm going. I was making pretty good time.

I skipped a step.

Those of you that "Know" will ask, "Why did you do it that way?" I don't know...

I had 'started' pulling valve cores to relieve the pressure prior to removing the (one) nut that holds the wheel on the axle. I removed the wheels. Removed six of the eight bolts. Put the wheels in the bead breaker. Then removed the other two bolts.

It was working and I was making good time. On the first three, I DOUBLE checked the valve core before I started loosening bolts....

I had five of eight bolts out of the LAST wheel. I was loosening the sixth. I realized I had skipped a step. I hadn't DOUBLE checked the valve core. Skipped a step my ass. I had skipped two. Sure enough. The cap was still on the stem. (No way the core had been removed.)

How about some irony to go with my near demise.? I was using the top of the tire cage as a work table!

I fumbled with the latch on the cage. I had never used it. Never seen anybody use it. We ALWAYS (morbidly laughing to myself here) ALWAYS deflate/ inflate tires on the axle. I put it in the cage and pulled the stem.

Had I gone much farther, I'd have become another BASI legend. The kind where those that "Know Better"... I've heard the stories. I've reacted to them. Seen others react to them. Typically, they squint deeply, wincing, thinking, "What was he thinking?" Then, eyes open, eyes roll and shoulders shrug. Just like "Old Bill" used to say, "The Stupid shall be punished."



Bob Barbanes said...

David, maybe not everyone knows how dangerous that can be. But reading it sent chills down my spine. Close, man, close. When we rush, we make mistakes. It's a lesson we learn early...and keep learning. If we're lucky, we don't learn it the hard way.

Rodolfo said...

I HATE rushing. I know I can do the job quick but how can I when it's the first time I've ever done that job? Sometimes I wonder how my boss has survived all these years. I wouldn't go far as to say the shop is "shady" but there have been a couple days this summer when I had to scratch my head and ask "Is he serious?"