Airline mechanic reveals simple reason for delays – they aren’t always fixing the plane

Passengers sometimes find themselves faced with long delays that leave them sitting on the tarmac for hours at a time. Often, this is due to a mechanical issue prior to taking off which requires the help of a mechanic.


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While the lengthy weight is often due to the problem being resolved, it turns out the fix might not be as long as the wait denotes.

An anonymous airline mechanic, with experience working for a number of carriers, revealed in a Reddit forum the truth about what they’re really doing while passengers wait.

The mechanic wrote: “Most of your delay is spent waiting on me to do all the paperwork to clear the aircraft or for me to finish the other seven calls I’m out on to get to your plane.”

Though the problem will be fixed if the plane can not fly safely with the error, it seems sometimes a quick fix is lengthened simply by admin necessities.

“If your flight has a maintenance delay and there is no on station mechanics for that carrier I get called. If it’s a quick fix, I fix it. If not we check to see if it can be deferred to get fixed later,” explains the mechanic.

The mechanic also pointed out that safety is paramount, and though delays or cancelled flights may be a headache for passengers, they are often the only option.

“There is also constant pressure on both me and the pilots to clear or fly aircraft that have some fairly significant problems,” they continue.

“I have airlines try to get me to sell some pretty sketchy stuff to the pilots to get them to fly and avoid a costly delay.

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“I have no problems telling a pilot to call his controllers/dispatchers and tell them to f*** off if I’m not comfortable with whatever concoction of deferral action I was asked to perform.

“Don’t get me wrong, the airlines would never willingly fly an unsafe aircraft. But if there is say an engine vibration that is just right at a hair under the limit they will fly it.

“If the oil is super low but servicing it will cause a delay-service it at the next stop.

“If the pilot encounters something at altitude that I can’t duplicate on the ground-sign it off and see if it happens again.


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“Those are the ones I usually push back on depending what it is.”

While mechanical issues may sound scary, they are often just basic servicing needs for the plane to fly.

Some of the most common mechanical issues include aircraft parking issues, problems with water drainage systems during the winter months, contamination of the air conditioning system, issues with engine fan blades and fuel contamination.

Along with mechanical issues, some of the most common reasons for delay include air traffic control measures, adverse weather, strikes, connecting passengers or bags, security clearance and weight restrictions.

According to the Bureau of Statistics, about 20 percent of all flights are delayed by 15 minutes or more.

If passengers face a delay that is the airline’s fault they may be entitled to compensation under the EC261/2004 Regulation.

Mostly this depends on the length of the delay, the flights predicted journey time and the reason for the delay.

Compensation can range from monetary value to vouchers for food and drinks. 

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