We've all been paying a lot of attention to cancellations and delays in this summer of crisis in air travel. With good reason.
But lost in the chaos has been the issue of maintenance on aircraft. Pilots tell me they're concerned about deferred maintenance, not to mention layoffs and outsourcing in maintenance. Some pilots tell me they're very uncomfortable with the number of routine maintenance red flags they're taking off with. Taking off with a few red flags (something is flagged to be fixed, but it in and of itself isn't a critical safety issue) is normal -- but the sheer accumulation of them has some veteran pilots worried.
Around 1.40 a.m. Friday, American Airlines Flight 955, reporting hydraulic failure on its starboard side, made an emergency landing in Norfolk while en route to Buenos Aires from New York. The 767, with 236 passengers and crew aboard, landed safely.
I heard from someone on the flight who said passengers were put up in hotels, but no one had access to their checked bags because Norfolk couldn't offload 767 cargo.
Continuing onward the next day after a refueling stop in Miami, the plane was re-directed through Brazilian air space in the aftermath of the radar breakdown over the Amazon, but finally did make it to Argentina.
Keep your eye on maintenance problems. My guess is we're going to be hearing a lot more about them.