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Squawks & HeadlinesAir France plane grounded after technicians noticed 30 screws were missing from wing... after FIVE days of flights

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Air France plane grounded after technicians noticed 30 screws were missing from wing... after FIVE days of flights

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An Air France jet flew for five days before ground crews noticed that 30 screws were missing from one of its wings. The Airbus A340 plane had undergone routine maintenance in China, before flying to Paris and then on to the US before the potentially disastrous blunder was finally spotted. (www.dailymail.co.uk) More...

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conmanflyer
connor oslie 0
not five days of flights two flights in five days
canuck44
Certainly gives new meaning to Chinese Take Out.

One would think Air France would have one of their people sign off on the work before taking it back.
Falconus
Falconus 0
If I am not mistaken, that was part of a maintenance panel, and while it is indeed deplorable that these screws were missed, I seriously doubt that it would have posed a problem to the flight, and really doubt that it was "potentially disastrous". I do see their point about being problematic if it hit something, but not exactly drama-worthy. The biggest problem to me is the sheer lack of attention given by the mechanics. An access panel flying off is generally not a big deal (though I admit that I don't know much about airline operations) but they could just as easily have forgotten some pieces that are quite a bit more important.
Falconus
Falconus 0
If I am not mistaken, that was part of a maintenance panel, and while it is indeed deplorable that these screws were missed, I seriously doubt that it would have posed a problem to the flight, and really doubt that it was "potentially disastrous". I do see their point about being problematic if it hit something, but not exactly drama-worthy. The biggest problem to me is the sheer lack of attention given by the mechanics. An access panel flying off is generally not a big deal (though I admit that I don't know much about airline operations) but they could just as easily have forgotten some pieces that are quite a bit more important. And how is it "damaged", as stated in the image caption? I could see calling it damage if there was actual, um, damage, but as far as I know the panel and the other 60 screws were perfectly undamaged.
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 0
What's a few screws amongst friends
onceastudentpilot
tim mitchell 0
They noticed it because they were probably the ones that left them out...we do it all the time in the trucking industry and we never drop names to the drivers..lol...glad they caught it
preacher1
preacher1 0
What bearing does the Concorde crash have on this problem other than is was AirFrance too?
preacher1
preacher1 0
I'm outa here. 3AM comes awful early in the morning and that only leaves me an hour to get around in the morning and make a 1 1/2 hr drive to KFSM to catch a 6am flight. I used to could sleep til 4, still make the drive and the flight but I guess I'm getting older. I don't like to move that fast anymore.LOL
sheka
mark tufts 0
sounds like the maintence people who worked on the plane had afew screws missing and an air france person should have done a full check before signing off on it
swenventures
Swen Ventures 0
That's what happens when you try and save money, and use cheap china. I thnk the world is finally waking up to, everything made in China... isn't quality sames goes for service! Japan takes care of planes better than anyone... when landing in Japan, you will notice how careful the workers fuel and prep the planes, and they all wear white gloves. Amazing.
preacher1
preacher1 0
From KDFW: checklist done, waiting for engine start and shove, gone to KATL. AA MD80,Bye
preacher1
preacher1 0
Passing by KSHV on AA 565. On the planes wi-fi; FL300; looks like OT for DFW if they'll get me in the parade. ATR up at 69 out of KSHV but I'll go over him. 430pm arv due then hpefully a nap. KFSM flight don't leave til about 8, land about 9, home about midnight. Getting too old for this crap. Time I get home tonite, I'll like 3 hrs being up 24 hrs. THRUSTT, Geritol don't help, but I sure hope a bar is open close by at KDFW.LOL
preacher1
preacher1 0
Well, 7 minutes late ain't bad for an old man. I'd have been OT if Memphis hadn't slowed me up a little. Rest was traffic down here; like playing thread the needle to get in the pattern, BUT, was near as bad as KATL. The only good feeling I ever get about that place is getting out of it. THRUSTT, I found that watering hole and that joint juice is sure good. Just heard from a buddy of mine. He's across the field in a citation fixing to head back to KFSM in about an hour and has room. Catch me a ride and I'm headed to the house.LOL.later
skylloyd
skylloyd 0
This "screw-up" with China maintenance, is just the tip of the ice berg.
pilot62
NEXT, please and thank-you
petesjet1
How in the world do you miss 30 screws? Somebody's got to be plum blind not to catch that!
preacher1
preacher1 0
Well, everybody is talking about inferior Chinese stuff right now and rightfully so BUT, it wasn't that many years back when the same thing was said about Japanese stuff. Then after about 20 years, the Japanese really instituted quality and are now kicking everybody's tail in many places and making some of the best cars and electronics in the world. China will do the same one of these days as quality will take over from quantity. They bear watching.
mattsayle202
Matthew Sayle 0
Screws don't hold the wings on anyway. If The upper and lower wing bolts were missing, then I would be worried.
JENNYJET
One missing screw = additional strain upon the next screw in line, basic physics Gentleman! To have this situation arise from a maintainence oversight ( being generous ) suggests to me that contractual obligations are being breached thus a
change of service provider is in order!

If I was in charge of onsite maintenance overseas, I would instantly bring it back to Toulouse until a resolution is identified. A Chinese IBM is not the same as an A340 is it?
StymieHo
Chris Donawho 0
So Wayne... Im having trouble digesting some of these safety risks. Which is worse: sub-standard Chinese labor for pennies on the dollar? Or one of the guys sitting in the pointy end of an MD80 churning out forum posts on Flightaware at FL300 over Shreveport?
preacher1
preacher1 0
@Chris: those were for the benefit of a couple of other old heads that were giving me a hard time. Can't tell, but if your comment is sarcastic then I enjoyed it. If my comments offended you, then I apologize, But I don't think my 3 out of 38 were excessive. My comments ref the Chinese work speak for themselves.
preacher1
preacher1 0
@Chris:I will add that the guy in the pointy end of the MD83 over SHV had the AP on and just twiddling thumbs a few. It got pretty dang busy not long after that post.LOL
StymieHo
Chris Donawho 0
They passed a city ordinance here in the sprawling metropolis of Arlington, Tx banning texting while driving. This measure passed despite only 34 of just over 6000 vehicle accidents were attributed directly to texting while driving. When I read about posting at 30,000 feet, I couldnt help but call you out Wayne... and I am not the least bit offended by anything btw. In fact, I hope you took my comment in jest, as I am right under the BPARK (ballpark) intersection and I would hate find out my car got drenched in blue lav water after one of my comments strikes a nerve (something I always aim for in this forum).
StymieHo
Chris Donawho 0
Kinda like THRUSTT... I see a lot of my thoughts in his comments and I get a kick out of every one of them.
preacher1
preacher1 0
@Chris: I can guarantee you that about 20 minutes after that comment there wasn't any time to be popping out anything on that computer.LOL
preacher1
preacher1 0
@Chris: if that blue water drenching comes along, you will have to fuss at the maintenance folks. I haven't found the bombs away switch for that one yet.LOL
preacher1
preacher1 0
@Chris: and I will add that THRUSTT was one of those lod heads giving me the hard time.LOL
genethemarine
Gene spanos 0
Maybe X-Mayor Daley can include maint in his next trip while visiting with the RED chinese.
StymieHo
Chris Donawho 0
Thrustt: rotflmaoshagtwuriruwywttwu

I don't care who ya are... dat there is funny.
preacher1
preacher1 0
You guys are starting early this morning.
Wingscrubber
Wingscrubber 0
Cheap Chinese maintenance? You get what you pay for. You will not catch me on an Air France plane anytime soon...
toolguy105
toolguy105 0
One wonders if the cheap labor left out 30 screws in an access panel what else they forgot or didn't finish properly. If I was in charge of AF maintenance I would pull that plane of the line and have the mechanics review everything that was done in China. Then I would want to recall the AF maintenance rep to find out the how and why this was missed

Lastly this points out that the cheap labor may not be saving mony for the Air Line mony if We need to review the work done in China before returning the plane to passenger service. I'm sure this isn't the first time a plane has been returned with sub standard work. In fact I know it hasn't. I recently watch a documentary where the elevator cables were improperly rigged at a out sourced facility in the U S. causing the plane to crash and the death of all aboard.

There is no excuse nor should the public or an Airline accept sloppy maintenance. Properly trained and airline employed labor supervised by the FAA or other countries equivalent is the only answer.
barry307
Barry Garen 0
That Scarebus was just shedding weight! Getting down to its fighting weight, you know?
barry307
Barry Garen 0
That Scarebus was just shedding unwanted holiday weight! Gettin down to its fighting weight. Ha!
RickFaulk
Rick Faulk 0
Air China--Frankfurt to Beijing--it was the first time I saw ashtrays in the armrest since about 1980.
jetpro510
In my opinion, the fact that maintenance personel overlooked reinstalling 30 screws on an inspection panel?, would call into question the quality of any other work that was performed at the time. Once discovered, did they just reinstall the missing screws and return the aircraft to service or did they removed the panel and inspect any other work that may have been performed? IMHO, that would be the prudent and safe thing to do in this case, if I were the maintenance tech in charge.
jetpro510
They find "30 missing screws from a wing panel after 5 days" and how many preflights? In my opinion, this would cause me to question the quality of any other work performed at the same time, or at least, by the same technician(s), if they can be called that. What about the pilots who performed the prefight inspections? After this was discovered, did maintenance personel just reinstall the 30 missing screws, or did they pull that panel and other panels to inspect any other work that may have been performed at the same time? That would have been the prudent and safe thing to do before returning this aircraft to service.
GaAubie
Ken Hardy 0
If you remember the Space Shuttle Columbia just had a small hole in the leading to start with, no big deal said the design Engineers and we all know what happened there. little things have a way of turning into big things, but I guess that's what you get for cheap rates in China.
gebathe
Gene Bathe 0
pitiful...just pitiful...am I alone here or does anybody else ever think perhaps he or she has also stayed too long at the fair. I remember when people took pride in their work as an extension of themselves. Mechanics and engineers knew that people's lives depended on them and that meant something. The current business philosophy to dehumanize and "industrialize" every job so that the individual is irrelevant as an individual contributor seems to be succeeding. This is a fault of Air France management and cockpit crews who failed to notice this after having flown the aircraft on two flights in 5 days!!! It does, however, speak well of Airbus. We must have change in all business and government and remember that institutions are created to serve people and not the reverse.
stickman69
Mike Stinnett 0
The Concorde crashed because it hit a piece of metal that fell off of another plane
gebathe
Gene Bathe 0
Manufacturers instructions on M & E exist for a good reason. Short cuts are usually just that and wind up costing more over the long haul. But by then, leadership has exercised their options, cashed in the golden parachute and moved on.
VirginBlue
This is a great example of what out sourcing can do ,for your business.
jetpro510
Research Air France Flight 447. They can't blame a foreign air carrier, Airbus for inadequately designed pitot tube heating, or Air France for training deficiencies, so they want to lay all the blame on the pilots. The pilots did fail to fly the aircraft under partial panel conditions, but was that soley their fault or due to inadequate training?

We have the missing screws on this AF Airbus, discovered in Boston, MA USA
AF 447 June 2009 Airbus Incorrect airspeed data due to pitot tube icing.
AF 358 August 2005 Airbus Runway overrun on landing in thunderstorm.
AA 587 November 2001 Airbus Vertical stabilizer separates below manuevering speed. Not supposed to happen unless Va is too high or structure/flight controls are inadequately designed. PERIOD.
AF 4590 June 2000 (Concorde) Unairworthy aircraft with multiple failures on Air France's part, but court rules responsibility almost on Continental?

Am sure there are more.

Is there a pattern here?

I wondered why the French have reputations as being rude and arrogant.
GaAubie
Ken Hardy 0
I have spent over 40 years in and around Non Destructive Testing ( NDT ) of airframe and aero engines and there is no excuse for not doing the job right the first time. It starts with the Tech doing the work then with the inspector checking what the Tech has done. Airlines are asking for trouble when the Tech doing the work is also the inspector. There is an attitude that aircraft are so over engineered that a few missing parts here or there won't make a difference, its true that aircraft are to a degree over engineered but letting that be an excuse for sloppy work is very Dangerous. Remember, you can't pull to the curb if you develop a problem.
firesafety552
firesafety552 0
they service them in China because of "cheaper labor"...you got what you paid for...just glad the mistake didnt cause any big deal.....not being a flier, might I ask a question? what does the pilot check and look at prior to the flight...
flith
thor nibus 0
Thank goodness the 'technicians' noticed the duct taped panel. How did AF miss it?!?!?!
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 0
Maybe an inspection panel from another Air France piece of equipment? We'll never know.
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 0
You get what you pay for. Best check their work from now on.
canuck44
Looks like AF is feeling the heat:

http://www.airlineberg.com/index.php/2011/12/01/air-france-suspends-maintenance-in-china/

As soon as it cools off they will start back there once more.
alstan
Who services AF aircraft?
chalet
chalet 0
I flew to Paris on Nov. 20 aboard an Air France 340-300 and flew back on Dec. 2 same type of aircraft from the same airline. Service was excellent indeed, of course flying Business Class makes a big difference but on the return leg I sort of scanned my plane to see if there were any "anomalies" like this, just in case.....
jetpro510
Mike, Unfortunately, while the metal strip on the runway that day contributed to the Concorde accident, it is not that simple. The investigation of this accident revealed several contributing factors, as is usually the case. One glaring find was a missing spacer in the bogee wheels that Air France maintenance forgot to install during a preceeding maintenance event, performed for the first time by Air France on the Concorde. Apparently, British Airways had performed these particular events up until that time. Had the metal strip not been present that day, the missing spacer causing the bogees to track at an offset, the resulting additional side load stresses and heat generated on the tires likely would have caused premature tire failure with similar results only at a later date and different airport, such as JFK, Dulles, or Heathrow. You can read a very informative article here:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0UBT/is_6_16/ai_82753359/?tag=content;col1
alistairm
alistairm 0
same reason that Americans are called the "ugly American" whe they are abroad... because they are;)
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 0
Never mind your country.
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 0
canuck44
...or family if that is what lights the fire.
laxlover
Stephen Brown 0
Great line!!
conmanflyer
connor oslie 0
... except the dreamliners.
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 0
You need some wash some geritol down with some joint juice old man!!!
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 0
This is a mis-filed a response to another post.
preacher1
preacher1 0
Personal position and status, as well as pride taken in those, is still a very important part of the culture, both in Japan and South Korea.
canuck44
Fewer D Checks and even C Checks will done be in the USA but in countries with low labor costs and warm weather. For those that thought Ethiopians only drove taxis in DC, a trip to their in country facilities is revealing. They have specialized in heavy maintenance for 767s and now 777s. They have a huge program to educate workers for the MRO industry.
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 0
It's like everything else in life, the chef in the restaurant takes a dump then prepares your food without washing her hands. There will always be stuff that's not done right...
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 0
I thought they were yellow
StymieHo
Chris Donawho 0
Air France doesnt fly anywhere in particular that I want to go.... esp. France.
preacher1
preacher1 0
Sad part is that as in a crash or mishap of some kind, we won't hear anything unless like this, that something goes awry. I would seriously doubt if AirFrance is the only one using these folks or others like them. Probably every other major is to to some degree. Like I said, you just won't know it until something goes haywire.
preacher1
preacher1 0
People are people and as you say, it really don't matter whether it's U.S. or not. As far as airline people or outsource, I still think it goes back to the people and their work attitude. Thinking sloppy and doing just enough to get by equates to that kind of output. There are some fine contract shops out there and some sorry ones, just like Airline Maintenance depts.
preacher1
preacher1 0
A more serious incident occured on a Pinnacle RJ I was flying one day on a MEM/GSO turn. A very minor thing that turned very major but with direction from ground maintenance supt. at MEM, we were able to correct in flight, but as the bird had just came out of C and the guy that did that part had quit no notice, Super took it back in that night and went over everything that guy had signed off on. Nothing else was found but it was a wise precaution
jetpro510
If the information I have is correct, they way these aircraft are engineered and designed, any missing screw, let alone 30, is likely to compromise the design loading of the area in question. Then there is the catch all Type Certificate Data Sheet that technically renders any aircraft unairworthy that does not conform to original type certification by, in this case, having 30 screws missing from an installed panel.
Falconus
Falconus 0
Sorry y'all for the double post; not quite sure what happened there.
preacher1
preacher1 0
You get what you pay for.
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 0
Seems like everything fell into place there...
jetpro510
Gene, Did you not get the memo? The Supreme Court ruled that corporations ARE people.
stickman69
Mike Stinnett 0
The Concorde crashed because it hit a piece of metal that fell off of another plane
gebathe
Gene Bathe 0
Yes, a CO DC10-30 (was it a 30?)
StymieHo
Chris Donawho 0
Dear Air France,

Just Brakes has a great deal: $99 12-wheel brake re-line. It includes resurfacing rotors too!
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 0
U screwed up...
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 0
That should be "you need to wash some geritol down with some joint juice old man"
99NY
99NY 0
preacher1
preacher1 0
It was actually a nice trip. First I have made in a long time in which there was absolutely NO WRITEUP on either bird. Made it back to FSM about 730, which put me back to the house about 9. That AA wouldn't have gotten to FSM until about 9 so it saved a bit and was a bunch more pleasurable. I slept like a log then woke up wide awake at 330 this morning. Guess I'll go to Church this morning and watch it rain all day.
BTW, been aiming to ask you, Who do you fly for and out of where?
RickFaulk
Rick Faulk 0
I only have two thumbs to go up here, but if I had more, I'd give them to you. Many thumbs up to ANA, Asiana, JAL, KAL, Cathay, and Singapore Air. If the rest of the world's airlines followed your models, flying would be a great and wonderous thing. Unfortunately, the wife and I are stuck on American Airlines going home in February. RKSI to RJAA on JAL will be great. RJAA to KDFW to KCLL on AA and the eagle will suck. 6 dollar beers on a trans-Pacific flight is ridiculous.
toolguy105
toolguy105 0
Sort of what happened on the Allegheny commuter flight that I believe went down at CHS. The mechanic and his supervisor did the cable check. After the fact they acknowledged skipping several steps that should have shown the cables out of alignment.

The plane flew 5 times until a morning flight out of CHS when fully loaded and over weight. When the pilots pulled the gear up the cg shifted to tail heavy. The nose rose and because of the cable misalignment to the elevators the pilots could not bring the nose down. The plane stalled and well you know what happens form there.


Poor maintenance is not acceptable. More flights by cash strapped regional airlines who farm out maintenance to poorly supervised and in this case unqualified maintenance shops, the technicians who worked on the plan discussed here were not trained to work on it, cause accidents. I won't go so far as to say the Union mechanics are an absolute necessity though you must admit they provide excellent maintenance.
jetpro510
By the way, have you noticed how much the wings deflect upward in flight? If you think 30 screws missing from a panel on any wing that deflects that much under normal flight loading, let alone in turbulence, is no big deal, ask an aeronautical engineer.
gebathe
Gene Bathe 0
Darn! I forgot that!! It's time then, that every American incorporate, roll our debt into the corp and then have a nationwide, same-day Ch 11 filing :)
alistairm
alistairm 0
So, you don't want to travel to any of these places? I guess you better be happy staying within your county lines:

Abidjan
Ajaccio
Algiers
Amsterdam
Antananarivo
Athens
Bamako
Bangkok
Barcelona
Bastia
Beijing
Beirut
Berlin
Biarritz
Billund
Bogotá
Bordeaux
Boston
Brest
BuenosAires
Cairo
Calvi
Casablanca
Cayenne
Cologne
Cotonou
Dakar
Delhi
Douala
Dubai
Figari
Fort-de-France
Frankfurt
Freetown
Geneva
Havana
Hong Kong
Istanbul
Johannesburg
Lille
Lima
Lisbon
London
Los Angeles
Lyon
Madrid
Marseille
Mauritius
Mexico City
Miami
Milan
Montpellier
Montreal
Moscow
Mumbai
Munich
Nantes
New York City
Nice
Orlando
Paris
Pau
Perpignan
Phnom Penh
Pointe-a-Pitre
Prague
Rio de Janeiro
Rome
Saint Martin
Saint-Denis
San Francisco
Santiago de Chile
Santo Domingo
Seattle
Seoul
Shanghai
Singapore
Stockholm
Tel Aviv
Tokyo
Toulon
Toulouse
Tunis
Venice
Vienna
Washington D.C.
Zurich
jetpro510
I should correct my earlier post. There is conflicting information and testimony from witnesses that cast doubt as to the metal strip actually contributing to the Concorde crash. The French and British disagree on the probable cause. The French courts, not suprisingly, apparently refused to take this information into account nor other facts pertinent to the case that indicate failures by Air France and prefered to assign blame solely on Continental and their mechanic dispite the following;
1) This Concorde was in fact unairworthy due to Air France mechanics, several days and flights prior, not installing a spacer on the left gear bogee beam. See my previous post.
2) It was estimated this aircraft was perhaps a "tonne and a half" (Metric), or 3360 US pounds, over gross takeoff weight or more due to a baggage issue. Some baggage weights were not calculated into the takeoff weight given the flight crew, were placed in the aft baggage hold, shifting the CG aft of its calculated position. Aircraft above maximum certified takeoff weight.
3) It may have been as much as 13,000 pounds plus over allowable gross weight due to a tire speed limitations with a reported tailwind of 8 knots at the time of takeoff.

You mat read more here:

http://www.jet-age.net/2011/01/why-continental-is-not-responsible-for.html
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 0
Maybe an inspection panel from another Air France piece of equipment? We'll never know.
jetpro510
Have had similar experiences myself. Was assigned to a Lear 35 that the previous crew wrote up "Autopilot porpoises" and, of course, maintenance "could not duplicate". Launched and engaged autopilot when level at 410 in smooth air. Took the yolk and could move it fore and aft about 2 inches before it met any resistance. Informed DOM and he had elevator cable tensions checked. Elevator cable tensions were at 1/2 of spec. He then had aileron and rudder tensions checked. They were out of spec as well.
jetpro510
Or, better yet, a mass bailout from Giethner.
preacher1
preacher1 0
Been here awhile now. Just killin' time in the crew hole drinkin my last coffee for a bit. Shuttin this thing down fixing to head for the bird and head back. Hopefully I'll be on top of all that Wx going back.
jetpro510
Then there is the question of accounting for exactly where those 30 missing screws may be located? Did some tech put them in a separate "tuna can", as some techs I know use for "hardware control", and place it inside the wing? Then another tech installs the panel with the other available screws and the "tuna can" still inside the wing where it can slide inboard when airborne and risk possible electrical shorts and/or jamming an actuator?
Think I am done speculating now.
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 0
Small 135 co. out of TEB, Lears and G-150...
But my real job is when my son takes me flying in a C-152 or DA-20
StymieHo
Chris Donawho 0
Wait... I think it was called a "friction re-line" or something like that... Who the hell calls a brake job a friction re-line?
BoeingFan59
Troy Raiteri 0
Since your in the FSM area you don't really need to worry about an Wx coming to ya for a couple of days it's all heading to me making my flying days worse haha.
preacher1
preacher1 0
Yeah, it wasn't all that bad. I as at FL300 ATL-DFW and went over the top of it at SHV on Saturday afternoon. It was mostly rain, no Tstorms. Looking at national news a few ago, it appears to be in the Southeast by now. Be careful
preacher1
preacher1 0
Troy: I don't know where you are loacted at but the weather guy out of KLIT is now calling for snow today from East Arkansas to past Birmingham, about and inch or so in all that but a heavey bulls eye around KBNA,2-3"
Don't know how high you'll be but it definitely won't be VFR. Be careful
BoeingFan59
Troy Raiteri 0
Yeah the clouds were too low for this morning so I rescheduled for Weds. And I'm located in MEM.