Saturday 6 September 2008

The Sky is falling, the Sky is falling


The phrase, "The sky is falling," has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent.

I hope (just like Chicken Licken) that I'm merely being hysterical and making a mistake.

Times are changing it seems and many of the icons that we have held as secure and safe for years are often no more.

Today I booked our flight to Thailand in November.

For over 20 years I have flown Qantas. Both domestically and internationally. Not because it is an Australian carrier but because it is the only international airline which has never had an accident. Qantas, the first airline to fly around the world, has had an unblemished safety record since it commenced operating 87 years ago.

But this time, after careful consideration, I chose another airline.

In recent months, Qantas has had a string of mechanical issues including a loss of hydraulic fuel that led to an emergency landing, failure of landing gear, and detached panels. The most serious incident happened in July when a Qantas flight from London to Melbourne was forced to make an emergency landing in the Philippines after an oxygen tank exploded on board, ripping a gaping hole in the fuselage.

It is an accident waiting to happen and I have lost faith.

Why are there suddenly all these problems?

Rising fuel prices have resulted in drastic cost cutting and now some of the airline's maintenance is being outsourced offshore. Obviously not to the same standards.

It perhaps didn't help when I found the following old email. It was meant to be funny. Unfortunately, the humour has worn off somewhat in light of recent events and only reinforced my decision.

After every flight, pilots fill out a form called a gripe sheet, which conveys to the mechanics problems encountered with the aircraft during the flight that need repair or correction. The mechanics read and correct the problem, and then respond in writing on the lower half of the form what remedial action was taken, and the pilot reviews the gripe sheets before the next flight. Never let it be said that ground crews and engineers lack a sense of humour. Here are some actual logged maintenance complaints and problems as submitted by Qantas pilots and the solution recorded by maintenance engineers.

(P = the problem logged by the pilot.)

(S = the solution and action taken by the engineers.)

P: Left inside main tyre almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tyre.
P: Test flight OK,except auto-land very rough.

S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.
P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.
P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.
P: Autopilot in altitude-hold
mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.
P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.
P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.
P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what they're there for.
P: IFF inoperative.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.
P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you're right.
P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.
P: Aircraft handles funny.
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.
P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.
P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.
P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget.

What have you noticed changing where you are?

Photo: Giampaolo Macorig - Flicker


  1. Qantas has lost face in the Far North too. A combination of the removal of flights b/w Cairns and some Asian cities (we rely on our Asian tourists because we are a holiday city) and their recent in-air disasters.
    I have no trips planned, but I think I would be using alternatives for International travel.

  2. I think I say a prayer every time I get on a plane. But then, it's said that more accidents occur in vehicles than in planes (then again, think about the ratio of cars to planes!)

    What has changed in my area? Geez, since Katrina - everything! After Gustav, - everything! And our sky is falling as we look at Ike eyeing us up.

    But one thing can be said, after Katrina, New Orleans is probably the only city that can evacuate such a large city in an orderly fashion. Katrina was the culprit, she forced order upon us and that's a good thing.

  3. What a funny set of email memos - but I see why you are having second thoughts about flying with your old standby.
    What do I notice changing? Well, at my age, it seems just about everything. But I guess I need to pick one so...geeze it seems my brain is on auto-pilot right now and can't produce a single cogent thought.
    Maybe it was the major shopping trip, stacking a cord of wood, and setting out our annual benefit garage sale today that has tuckered my body and erased my mind.
    Later, when I have more brain power.

  4. The things that I notice changing are definitely the weather patterns (as Aleta could only testify first hand to). I don't know but is it my imagination that there are way more natural disasters happening - I have to go Google that for any evidence but it seems to be the case. Also, the weather was once far more predictable than it is now. I have one other things whihc is way mroe inane and ridculous but my favourite food products are also changing - mainly the size of thigns is getting smaller and smaller and the quality is suffering ie biscuits. Now I know biscuits are not healthy but I do like my favourite ones. Just seems that bad economic times means everything gets cut, including airline maintenance. I think all of us should wake up and learn how to be more self sufficient. We need to be able to feed ourselves with homegrown vegetables etc.

  5. You are too kind, Lilly. I tend to write in the spur of the moment when the emotions are fresh. It's therapy for me in a sense.

  6. @ Megan - thats interesting as to how its affecting your part of the woods as well. Tourism is huge for you so fingers crossed it settles down and returns to 'normal'.

    @ Aleta - must say I have never feared air craft travel before now but the world is topsy turvy. Oh yes, your sky has fallen and these natural disasters keep hovering. I also thought it was so impressive about how New Orleans handled Gustav and the evacuation. Anyone reading these comments should check out Aleta's first hand account of the whole evacuation and the feelings of coming home again to more unrest and damage. It is truly brilliant. Take Care Aleta and may the sun shine again and your environment remain calm.

    @ JlO - wow sounds like you have been really busy - I had a garage sale a few weeks back - gosh they are exhausting but fun - strange how one mans trash is another man's treasure but I like the whole recycling of 'things'. Thanks for dropping by.

  7. @ Sarah - yes I agree with you and all I have to say are two words - Honey jumbles. My favourite Arnotts biscuits are jsut not the same as they once were when I was a child....

    @ Aleta - you are welcome you are a very talented writer and I so love how you put a positive spin on everything. You are a strong, strong young woman who is an inspiration for others.

  8. I grew up with the Chicken Little stories - love it! :)

    New trip coming up hey? What fun!

  9. Leslie - yes a trip to Thailand, perhaps next time it will be Italy...

  10. The price of fuel and food knows no bounds! Where will it all end?

  11. Anonymous - yes I think we just need to be in control as much as we can and change our lifestyles if we have to. People have lived through recessions and depressions before us so its good to her some of their stories on how they coped too.

  12. Lilly,
    Those are hilarious! Do you think the answers were true or do you think they were tweeked and satarized before they were forwarded? Still lol.

    I saw the picture of the hotel pool you'll be staying and it's absolutely beautiful. I can't wait for your report and photos after your return. I'm sure you can't wait to go. Hubby was stationed there, but I've never been there.

  13. Tasha - once upon a time I would have thought they were made up BUT now I am not so sure as it could explain a lot of things..

    OH yes I am looking forward to going on holidays. I will take pictures - so if your hubby wants any particular sites to see how much its changed let me know - we will be in Phuket and Bangkok too. Although, I am trying to ignore this bit but they have had unrest over there and all the airports recently closed and the tourists were stranded....exciting times we live in hey? By the way did you and your husband meet in the Philipines while he was in the forces or something - bet thats another love story you could write about....thanks for stopping by.

  14. I read the engineers reports with a grim (but funny) laugh...most people don't realise that an airoplane is seldom on the ground, and that the flight they are taking, is only one part of that plane's schedule that day...and managements will cut and cut down and only stop when they have to, due to disaster.

    On a lighter note...Your "The Sky is Falling...." reminds me of a saying, which I find true and amusing....

    "Just because you're Paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get you"

    just thought I'd share it.


  15. Thanks Henry (err I think). I like the saying and I am going to stay paranoid - I think they will continue cutting until there is a disaster. Profits mean more than lives to these companies - how about that for cynical?


Thanks for your comments.