Saturday, December 19, 2015

My Favorite Things: Coming 'Write' Up

A United Airlines 737 in snowy Chicago

There are so many components that go into a flight and there are many chances for things to go wonky. Between catering, passenger issues, weather, medical events, and mechanical issues, it's nearly rare when nothing goes wrong.

There are many reports in aviation. Reports are vital for aircraft maintenance, so any time there is an issue on board that involves the mechanics, we must report them. We call them write ups and they can be for anything as minor as reporting that the carpet is coming loose at a seam or a reading light being out at one of the seats, to larger issues such as a jumpseat not working properly or an overhead bin won't stay shut.

Recently, before closing the door to the aircraft, I noticed a wire loose, just sticking out and waving hello to me, from inside the frame. That didn't look right to me, so I asked the captain to come take a look at it. Wires should be mounted at each end, not waving to flight crew!

No engine = a lot of reports!

In the end, it turned out to be a grounding wire. Nearly everything on an airplane is redundant (there are more than one, so if one system goes inoperative, it has a back up), and the same was true in this instance. Eventually, we were OK'd to take off and the issue was differed, meaning they would fix it at a later time. But it doesn't end there. There's always paperwork to fill out. A report in triplicate, rubber stamped, blessed and accompanied by a note from your mother. Many times something is a simple fix, but waiting for the paperwork to get completed by maintenance is the reason for a wait.

For flight attendants, we have reports for catering discrepancies, reports for using medical equipment, reports for FAA violations, or those who violate FAA regulations. We have reports for injuries, reports for extended delays and reports for safety issues. Thinking back, I'm shocked we didn't have a class in initial training for report writing!

I'm good with reports. I enjoy writing and I've spent a number of years working in the field of security, including one year working with the Secret Service at the official residence of our 41st president of the United States. I'm pretty good with detail and keeping out emotions. Just the facts, ma'am. I've been told my reports are some of the best.

What's funny is the common thinking amongst flight attendants about safety...“Please take your seat, the seat belt sign is on and I don't want to do the paperwork if you get injured.” It's true. But what's really true is that nearly every trip has one report or another, and sometimes two or more. In fact, the very day after writing this story, I had a man pass out and require oxygen. He was able to walk off the flight on his own accord, and I had yet another report to fill out when I got home.

Fixing an oxygen mask compartment.
So working a trip and getting home and finding that I have no notes for any reports to fill out, doesn't happen all the time. It's nice that all of our reports are now done on line, so at least I can do them from the comfort of home. One of the best things about my job is that I can totally leave it behind once I leave the for a report or two. But when I have none, it sure is nice. It's my favorite.

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