After inspecting all 26 of its MD-80-series planes, Alaska Airlines has not found any other jackscrews lacking proper lubrication. The airline found one...
After inspecting all 26 of its MD-80-series planes, Alaska Airlines has not found any other jackscrews lacking proper lubrication.
The airline found one jackscrew without adequate grease during an inspection on Wednesday. The jackscrew had no grease in the middle section but lubrication at both ends, Alaska and federal air-safety officials said.
Alaska Chief Executive Bill Ayer ordered the fleetwide inspection Sept. 29 after The Seattle Times disclosed that three Alaska mechanics reported they found no grease on the jackscrew of an MD-83 jet they inspected during an overnight check on Jan. 10.
Failure of a jackscrew — a part in the tail section that helps control the plane’s angle of flight — led to the crash of Alaska Flight 261 in January 2000, killing all 88 passengers and crew. Federal investigators found that the jackscrew had not been properly lubricated, causing excessive wear.
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Alaska posted the results of the recent jackscrew inspections on its company Web site yesterday, saying 25 of 26 MD-80-series planes had no lubrication problems.
No excessive wear was found on the inadequately lubricated jackscrew discovered Wednesday, nor on the jackscrew the three mechanics reported as lacking grease on Jan. 10.
Alaska disputed the January incident, saying it had no evidence to support the mechanics’ claims.
The last prior inspection of both jackscrews had been scheduled to occur during major maintenance checks at a contract repair station used by Alaska in Oklahoma City. Alaska is legally responsible for the work that occurs there.
After The Times disclosed the January incident, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) opened an investigation into Alaska’s procedures for maintaining its jackscrews and the work done at the Oklahoma City facility.
The FAA is also examining another jackscrew incident three weeks ago in which a mechanic raised questions about adequate lubrication.
Alaska said it is working with Boeing, which merged in 1997 with McDonnell Douglas, the maker of MD-80s, and Smiths Aerospace, the jackscrew’s manufacturer, to review the findings on the inadequately lubricated jackscrew found Wednesday.
That jackscrew was removed from the aircraft.
“Our overriding concern is for the ongoing safety of our passengers and our employees,” Fred Mohr, Alaska’s vice president of maintenance and engineering, said on the company’s Web site posting.
Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or firstname.lastname@example.org