It’s enlightening when you talk to people who know things and not watch the talking heads on the news channels.
Saturday, I’m talking to a GE engineer. He told me things about those jet engines that failed last week in an engineers terms.
Southwest has a very high “cycle rate.” He said, look at the data. Southwest planes spend less time on the ground than any other airline. 39 minutes from one landing to the next takeoff on average. Again, he wasn’t judging or editorializing. He was stating facts.
These engines are “plug and play,” his words. It only requires a few hours on the ground to swap out an in-service engine, to take it into a hanger to test for metal fatigue, and replace it with a tested engine.
He said GE has very clear guidelines about “cycles” and testing for this metal fatigue. The cowling should have contained the failed metal piece that took out the window. That baffled him. He called it a horrible fluke.
He spoke of all airlines reluctance to take planes out of service, even for a few hours.
“Time on the ground costs money…”
Seeing things and speaking as only an engineer can, he said, “you design it properly, you built it properly and you test it properly and you have a good, safe, solid engine. If you buy a new car and the engine maintenance is scheduled for every 5000 miles and you don’t change the oil for 50,000 miles, and the engine fails, did Ford make a bad motor?”
No blame, no BS, just the facts as he sees them.
The conversation ended with him saying he was flying back to Memphis on Sunday. He was flying a Southwest plane equipped with the engines we’d been discussing.