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Old 07-06-2004, 11:13 PM   #1
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Problems on recent flight

My fiance had quite an interesting trip tonight from Atlanta to Orlando. The flight was supposed to leave at 8:15, but didn't take off until around 10pm. Apparently, they didn't have a pilot. Seems to be an integral part of an airplane.

Anyway, that wasn't even the worst part. She said it was the worst flight she had ever been on. Several times during the short flight, the lights flickered in the cabin. The engines were constantly changing pitch and whining also. The worst is yet to some. About a minute or so after landing, ALL POWER on the plane shut down. Everything, engines abruptly stopped. They cycled power and starting taxing back. They had several problems with power during the taxi.

Very reassuring when after landing the entire plane loses electrical power and the engines stop. I've been pretty happy with Airtran over my last few flights (and will be flying this weekend), but her flight was a bit unnerving for me.

I was just wondering if these new 717's have had similar power problems, since I've read about a few generator failures here.

Dan
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Old 07-07-2004, 07:02 AM   #2
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My fiance had quite an interesting trip tonight from Atlanta to Orlando. The flight was supposed to leave at 8:15, but didn't take off until around 10pm. Apparently, they didn't have a pilot. Seems to be an integral part of an airplane.
Nah...pilots are there to watch the plane....more than likely it was delayed due to the wonderful weather we have been having "ALL THIS MONTH" up and down the east coast.

Quote:
Anyway, that wasn't even the worst part. She said it was the worst flight she had ever been on. Several times during the short flight, the lights flickered in the cabin. The engines were constantly changing pitch and whining also. The worst is yet to some. About a minute or so after landing, ALL POWER on the plane shut down. Everything, engines abruptly stopped. They cycled power and starting taxing back. They had several problems with power during the taxi.
It sounds to me like your fiance' was riding in 1 of our brand new 737's...unlike the 717 when you change power over from 1 generator to another the lights will flicker in the cabin. Rest assured that this is normal. The 717 has a "no brake" pwr transfer and you would not even know when the pwr shifts from 1 generator to another. As for the engines abruptly stopping!!! I seriously think I would have heard of both engines just "abruptly stopping" inflight by now. The engines are constantly adjusting to keep the plane at the speed and flight level requested by the pilots....So it is quite possible to hear a "whining" and "change of pitch" sound coming from them. Just like you hear it in your car when you accelerate or decellorate.

Quote:
Very reassuring when after landing the entire plane loses electrical power and the engines stop. I've been pretty happy with Airtran over my last few flights (and will be flying this weekend), but her flight was a bit unnerving for me.
If the engines stopped after landing then that means your at the gate and its time to get off. Once again with the 737 the lights are going to "flicker" when pwr is changed from the engines back to the APU or External supply. We appreciate your business and I hope you have a better flight this weekend. Please come back here and let us know how it was, and feel free to ask any questions you may have. Its better to get the record straight than think something was wrong.
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Old 07-07-2004, 07:10 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by jetmech717
If the engines stopped after landing then that means your at the gate and its time to get off. Once again with the 737 the lights are going to "flicker" when pwr is changed from the engines back to the APU or External supply. We appreciate your business and I hope you have a better flight this weekend. Please come back here and let us know how it was, and feel free to ask any questions you may have. Its better to get the record straight than think something was wrong.
Thats my point, when that happened they were at the end of the runway. The cabin was full of screaming passengers too, which never helps.
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Old 07-07-2004, 07:14 AM   #4
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Not sure then Mr. dant. When I go back to work tonight I'll give it a check. Havent heard of anything like that though. Did they have to get towed back to the gate?
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Old 07-07-2004, 12:02 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by jetmech717
Not sure then Mr. dant. When I go back to work tonight I'll give it a check. Havent heard of anything like that though. Did they have to get towed back to the gate?
no, they were able to power back on and taxi back. i'd really appreciate you checking. flight 438 from atl- mco last night.
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Old 07-07-2004, 01:10 PM   #6
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I am checking into this also it was a 717, it was aircraft 729. I can assure you that the engines did not stop running. I am checking on the light situation. Just from my experience on the airplane, it sounds like the generator on one of the engines was starting to go bad when the power was at idle the generator stop producing power and there was an interruption on the power swap which could have caused the lights to go off. but this has me a little puzzled because when taking off and landing at night the cabin lights are always off to start with, only the handrail lights are on, which are very dim incadescent lights and would not be noticed if the power was lost. Also if power was lost all the emergency lights in the cabin would have come on. Will let you know if I find out anymore info.
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Old 07-07-2004, 01:36 PM   #7
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thanks guys
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Old 07-07-2004, 08:45 PM   #8
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I'm the person that was flying on the plane :)

I was the one on the flight that you all have been talking about. I just wanted to recap the situation. Basically, my flight was scheduled to take off at 8:15 and didn't take off until 10:05 or so. I landed at 11:04 on my watch. For almost an hour and 45 minutes I sat on the plane without a pilot and was offered no drinks and did not get off the plane because the flight attendants assured us (about every 10 minutes) that the crew were just about to get on board. When I called Airtran this morning, the customer service rep argued with me that I did not wait that long and insisted I took off at 9:35 pm. Also, there was no air on the plane while we sat at the gate. The flight was an unpleasent one and the engines were pulling back and forth the entire flight. About a minute or so after landing, the plane was taxiing and the power just shut off, lights, air, engines, and we were in pitch black darkness. This was not "dimmed" night lighting. It was so dark I couldn't see in front of my face. I was very upset because I couldn't help but think, what if this happened two minutes ago in the air? The rest of the way back to the gate the lights and air flickered on and off. After explaining my experience to Airtran customer service today, they offered me a whopping $25 off my next flight. I just wanted to know what was going on. Thanks
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Old 07-07-2004, 09:09 PM   #9
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Hi, littlebug. I would recommend writing a letter describing the situation and include copies of your boarding pass/tickets/etc and send the letters to:

Assistant Administrator for System Safety ASY-100
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20591

and

Aviation Consumer Protection Division
U.S. Department of Transportation
Room 4107, C-75
400 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20590
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Old 07-08-2004, 01:01 PM   #10
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littlebug:
Quote:
About a minute or so after landing, the plane was taxiing and the power just shut off, lights, air, engines, and we were in pitch black darkness. This was not "dimmed" night lighting. It was so dark I couldn't see in front of my face. I was very upset because I couldn't help but think, what if this happened two minutes ago in the air? The rest of the way back to the gate the lights and air flickered on and off.
Littlebug I am sorry about the customer service part of the flight. As far as the Crew not being there...there has been SEVERE weather all up and down the east coast for several weeks now and alot of the flights have been waiting on the flight crews to get back from a previous flight so they can fly their next scheduled "leg". I have a question though...Do you fly alot?, and if so have you flown the 717 before? Its engines "whine" alot, and they will do this if the crew is being sent up and down and all around to avoid thunderstorms (planes will avoid T-storms almost all the time). Also while taxing in from a flight alot of the crews shut-down 1 engine to conserve fuel, there was probably a pwr disruption when they did this. I can assure you once again that both engines did not quit after landing or you wouldnt have moved, and we would have got a write-up in ATL. Sorry again for the wait this happens alot of times in aviation, all I can explain to you is the technical part of the operation. Thanks

Oh yeah and Baker, keep up the good work! lol
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Old 07-08-2004, 02:06 PM   #11
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Thanks for the explanation

I am not a "frequent" flier but I have done my fair share of flying. This is my third time on a 717 and perhaps I was just not prepared for the noise and such. The only reason I was so concerned about the disruption in power is because I have never experienced it and thought that it seemed odd. Thank you for your prompt response, it will definately help me understand the happenings on my next 717 flight.
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Old 07-10-2004, 03:31 AM   #12
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littlebug,
I suggest that the next time you have a questions about your flight you forward them to you flight crew (pilots). They are usually positioned upfront as you deplane, or can be reached thru a flight attendant, and will gladly ease any of your concerns. I do it every day to people that are somewhat uncomfortable with flying. I always bring them to the cockpit after the flight, sit them in the seat and show them why and how....
The truth is -- flying is not a rocket science as it might seem from the back of a jet. There is always a logical and often simple explanation to everything that goes on.
As far as loss of power shortly after landing: As airplane is parked, it is connected to an external power unit (either a gasoline generator cart or a jetway power source from the terminal.) Then the cockpit indication is checked that the proper voltage is supplied and is accepted by the aircraft electrical system. At that point the engine is shut down by the pilots and the lights in the cabin are powered by an external source. Occasionally, the ramp agent decides to wiggle the power cord to make sure that it's properly plugged in and will actually interrupt the power. He usually will get a lecture from the captain after you leave the airplane.
On other occasions, the jetway power is weak and will drop the voltage shortly after it's turned on. In that case the Airport maintenance is informed and repairs to the jetway can be made. (note: AirTran or any other airline do not own or maintain jetways. They are part of an airport.)
As explained by one of our great mechanics above, one engine is usually shut down during taxi into the gate for fuel conservation purposes. As engine is shut down the electrical power reconfigures itself to single generator with appropriate relays opening and closing causing momentarily flicker of the lights in the cabin and in some instances a chime over a PA system. Contrary to common believe the electrical power is not need to fly the airplane. The essential aircraft systems are powered by designated back-up batteries for 60 minutes, allowing a safe landing. (the passenger convenience items, such as cabin lights are considered NON-essential item in such an abnormal situation, so the cabin will go almost completely dark to save battery charge.) Even with the above mentioned batteries ran dead after 60 minutes (which is highly unlikely due to the fact that there is always an airport available within a few minutes,) the airplane will still fly with engines running and no electrical power at all, and can be safely landed as long as pilots can see out the window.

As far as engines whining: The engines are controlled by autopilot in most cases. When pilots commend a speed reduction per ATC clearance, the power goes to idle....when the new speed is reached the engines are revved up automatically to capture and maintain the new speed. As with any computer some adjustments are made to fine tune the power setting to hold a precise speed so you might hear the engines whining up and down. Same happens on descends and level-offs. Engines are especially sensitive to speed during the final approach to landing. (as the aircraft travels at its slowest speed and precise control of airspeed is very important.) Engines will spool up and down to compensate for the slightest wind gusts. It is a very safe system.
In comparison try using your car's cruise control "accelerate" and "decelerate" buttons to control the speed, I'm sure you'll notice an abrupt engine response.
Flying is a very simple thing...the only thing that can be scary is luck of knowledge. So ask questions and there're plenty of people out there that will explain things to you in plane English and will even show how everything works.
Enjoy your flight. There are no monsters hiding in a closet.
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Old 07-11-2004, 12:17 PM   #13
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Hey guys...

You know to me, I'm a Delta/Song pilot, it sounds like he might of been manually flying the plane. When autopilot is engaged it always makes very very small adjustments over time so changes in flight direction and airspeed can not be felt or heard (a majority of the time).

And, I don't know how AirTran works but if I manually flew one of my flights I would get in soo much trouble! Has to do with fuel efficiency and that type of "stuff".

- John
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Old 07-13-2004, 02:35 PM   #14
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oh yeah......very good Delta!
I forgot about that one. Alot of the pilots tell me they "fly" the plane without autopilot every once in a while just to get the "feel" of the plane back. This is so incase of auto-pilot trouble they still can feel where the throttles need to be at different segments of flight. If this were the case then you would definatly hear the engines spooling more than normal. thanks Delta, later
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Old 07-13-2004, 03:24 PM   #15
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More...

The delay on the departure was attributed to a late inbound F/A.... 55 minutes worth (plus some delay for late arrival of equipment). Your flight was scheduled to leave at 2015, and it's recorded as pushing the gate at 2125. The door was closed at 2132. (That flight got off the ground 2158, btw). If you are unsucessful with dealing with customer service, please send me a PM and I will get you in contact with someone who will help.

I was thinking that having both of the autopilots on a number would be the reason the pilot would have hand flown the AC, but there's nothing in our records showing either autopilot being inop on ship 729 in a week-long window surrounding the flight. No FCC problems whatsoever. Or any aircraft in the fleet, for that matter.

AC
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Old 07-15-2004, 11:47 PM   #16
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Re: More...

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnonymousCoward
The delay on the departure was attributed to a late inbound F/A.... 55 minutes worth (plus some delay for late arrival of equipment). Your flight was scheduled to leave at 2015, and it's recorded as pushing the gate at 2125. The door was closed at 2132. (That flight got off the ground 2158, btw). If you are unsucessful with dealing with customer service, please send me a PM and I will get you in contact with someone who will help.
How common is it to push before the door closes?
On all the airliners I've flown on, they close the door before push.
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Old 07-16-2004, 05:39 AM   #17
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How common is it to push before the door closes?
On all the airliners I've flown on, they close the door before push.




It happins every day, the Dot sees depture (from the gate) within 15 mins as on time so what he was doing was calling out on time.
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Old 07-16-2004, 10:18 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 717Doc
Quote:
How common is it to push before the door closes?
On all the airliners I've flown on, they close the door before push.
It happins every day, the Dot sees depture (from the gate) within 15 mins as on time so what he was doing was calling out on time.
So its kind of like a cheat on the on-time percentages?
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Old 07-16-2004, 12:35 PM   #19
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So its kind of like a cheat on the on-time percentages?

Yes, all airlines that report to the Dot for on time performance do it.
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Old 07-19-2004, 01:22 PM   #20
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Above and Beyond

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Originally Posted by 717Doc
Yes, all airlines that report to the Dot for on time performance do it.
And some go even further by heavily "padding" their schedules so that normal delays don't affect their on-time numbers. AirTran doesn't use this practice.
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