|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||0601 To 1200|
|Locale Reference||airport : zzz.airport|
|Altitude||agl single value : 0|
|Operator||common carrier : air carrier|
|Make Model Name||B737-300|
|Operating Under FAR Part||Part 121|
|Flight Phase||ground : parked|
ground : preflight
|Affiliation||company : air carrier|
|Function||flight crew : captain|
oversight : pic
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 200|
flight time total : 10000
flight time type : 3000
|Anomaly||aircraft equipment problem : critical|
maintenance problem : improper maintenance
other anomaly other
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Maintenance||contributing factor : schedule pressure|
performance deficiency : repair
Flight Crew Human Performance
I do not enjoy writing reports like this one. The subject is pilot pushing -- this time it went too far. I turned down an aircraft for a hydraulic leak (details to follow). At some point; flight operations management was involved. The gentleman that was in charge in ZZZ kept me advised of what was going on. I should mention here that I felt no pressure from him; he was always professional and courteous. He told me that operations was calling a flight manager and they were suggesting that I be held OTS. I was also informed that a search for a new captain was being conducted to continue the flight. I do not know who initiated the phone call to flight operations or who exactly was called. It was a big relief when the flight office called and told me they were backing me 100%. I talked to dispatch a little later to inquire about the status of the flight and to try and track down a rumor that parts were being flown into ZZZ. He informed me he was also backing me 100%. He asked if I wanted to talk to maintenance control to inquire about the status of parts and the flight. At this time; I chose to close communication with maintenance as I felt hostility from their end of the operation. The pilot's union was informed about this as well. We arrived at ZZZ early. About 1 hour before departure time; we were just waiting on a clearance and passenger. This was go home day for the entire crew. The WX was great; we were keeping the aircraft for 2 out of 3 legs and there was only a minor deferral to deal with. A gentleman from ZZZ ground crew came up and asked if we were aware of a fluid leaking from the wheel well. We weren't. I told the first officer that I would go look at it. Since the aircraft was frosted and the sun was coming up; I expected to find water; not hydraulic fluid. I inspected the area and it did appear to be hydraulic fluid and I was going inside to call maintenance control. When I turned around; I saw a large pool of hydraulic fluid at the nose gear. This was definitely hydraulic fluid and was larger than a typical static leak. All the recessed areas of the gear had a pool of fluid. There was a large pool on the ground and the belly of the aircraft had fluid. The strut was soaked; basically the entire backside of the nose gear had fresh fluid on it. I went upstairs and asked the first officer if he had seen it on the walkaround; he had not. I didn't see it when I walked from operations to the aircraft. I should note here that the plane has a history of a leak at the nose gear. When I was on the phone with maintenance control I was informed about a third leak. Maintenance control called contract maintenance. Contract maintenance arrived; the third leak was water dripping from the left wing. The leak from the wheel well was from a fitting at the standby pump. The leak from the nose gear was harder to find. The standby pump leak was repaired by tightening the fitting. The mechanic then went to work on the nose gear. He cleaned the area and we pressurized the system and looked for the leak. Maintenance control and the mechanic both surmised (correctly) that the leak was coming from the up lock actuator. The leak could not be duplicated (same as the history). While the mechanic was talking to maintenance control and we were all looking at this; a new maintenance release came over the printer deferring the leak at the nose gear. I am not sure of the time line because I was outside. I asked for more time with pressure on the system to make sure that it wasn't leaking. The amount of fluid had me very concerned. I was as proactive as I could get just short of getting wrenches myself. I tried to keep everyone involved with this flight informed as to what was going on. The gentleman in charge in ZZZ was with us the entire time. I explained what each part did and how it operated. I talked with the first officer and got his opinion. Tried to find something I may have missed; an idea that should be tried; maybe a part of my thought process that was wrong. I have friends and relatives in almost every department here. I can appreciate the difficulties of their jobs. As a result; I don't mind when a supervisor from another department asks me questions when I ask for further maintenance. This gives him information to better do his job. There are even times when someone else has an idea that I haven't thought of and the flight can be completed safely. For this flight; I knew we had over 50 international passenger that had to get to ZZZ! All 5 of us would like to get home; there were another 200 passenger waiting for us for the following 2 legs. I also knew that a refusal could impact the lives and paychks of not only myself and the current crew but of those waiting for the aircraft down line. The amount of press coverage aircraft maintenance is receiving right now also entered my thought process. I was literally under the aircraft looking at all the hydraulic fluid. I just couldn't be sure if the actuator would continue to hold pressure. I was concerned what would happen when the piston was moved. I dismissed asking maintenance control further; his opinion seemed pretty clear -- 'take the aircraft.' I just could not say I was 100% confident in the safety of the flight without lying. The act of ZZZ operations calling flight operations makes me think they are questioning my integrity; competence; or both. This is extremely insulting not just to me but to the entire flight operations department. My training has always been safety first and foremost. Safety above all else; that includes the impact to my family. The first officer and I both lost a day off. I now have a conflict that will result in a loss of pay. That's part of our job. We understand that; and our families accept it as well. When ZZZ operations got involved; they created a hostile and potentially dangerous environment.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: CAPTAIN OF B737-300 REPORTS BOTH SUPPORT AND PRESSURE FROM VARIOUS ACR DEPARTMENTS REGARDING REFUSAL TO OPERATE AN ACFT WITH AN UNRESOLVED HYDRAULIC LEAK.
Narrative: I DO NOT ENJOY WRITING RPTS LIKE THIS ONE. THE SUBJECT IS PLT PUSHING -- THIS TIME IT WENT TOO FAR. I TURNED DOWN AN ACFT FOR A HYD LEAK (DETAILS TO FOLLOW). AT SOME POINT; FLT OPS MGMNT WAS INVOLVED. THE GENTLEMAN THAT WAS IN CHARGE IN ZZZ KEPT ME ADVISED OF WHAT WAS GOING ON. I SHOULD MENTION HERE THAT I FELT NO PRESSURE FROM HIM; HE WAS ALWAYS PROFESSIONAL AND COURTEOUS. HE TOLD ME THAT OPS WAS CALLING A FLT MGR AND THEY WERE SUGGESTING THAT I BE HELD OTS. I WAS ALSO INFORMED THAT A SEARCH FOR A NEW CAPT WAS BEING CONDUCTED TO CONTINUE THE FLT. I DO NOT KNOW WHO INITIATED THE PHONE CALL TO FLT OPS OR WHO EXACTLY WAS CALLED. IT WAS A BIG RELIEF WHEN THE FLT OFFICE CALLED AND TOLD ME THEY WERE BACKING ME 100%. I TALKED TO DISPATCH A LITTLE LATER TO INQUIRE ABOUT THE STATUS OF THE FLT AND TO TRY AND TRACK DOWN A RUMOR THAT PARTS WERE BEING FLOWN INTO ZZZ. HE INFORMED ME HE WAS ALSO BACKING ME 100%. HE ASKED IF I WANTED TO TALK TO MAINT CTL TO INQUIRE ABOUT THE STATUS OF PARTS AND THE FLT. AT THIS TIME; I CHOSE TO CLOSE COM WITH MAINT AS I FELT HOSTILITY FROM THEIR END OF THE OP. THE PLT'S UNION WAS INFORMED ABOUT THIS AS WELL. WE ARRIVED AT ZZZ EARLY. ABOUT 1 HR BEFORE DEP TIME; WE WERE JUST WAITING ON A CLRNC AND PAX. THIS WAS GO HOME DAY FOR THE ENTIRE CREW. THE WX WAS GREAT; WE WERE KEEPING THE ACFT FOR 2 OUT OF 3 LEGS AND THERE WAS ONLY A MINOR DEFERRAL TO DEAL WITH. A GENTLEMAN FROM ZZZ GND CREW CAME UP AND ASKED IF WE WERE AWARE OF A FLUID LEAKING FROM THE WHEEL WELL. WE WEREN'T. I TOLD THE FO THAT I WOULD GO LOOK AT IT. SINCE THE ACFT WAS FROSTED AND THE SUN WAS COMING UP; I EXPECTED TO FIND WATER; NOT HYD FLUID. I INSPECTED THE AREA AND IT DID APPEAR TO BE HYD FLUID AND I WAS GOING INSIDE TO CALL MAINT CTL. WHEN I TURNED AROUND; I SAW A LARGE POOL OF HYD FLUID AT THE NOSE GEAR. THIS WAS DEFINITELY HYD FLUID AND WAS LARGER THAN A TYPICAL STATIC LEAK. ALL THE RECESSED AREAS OF THE GEAR HAD A POOL OF FLUID. THERE WAS A LARGE POOL ON THE GND AND THE BELLY OF THE ACFT HAD FLUID. THE STRUT WAS SOAKED; BASICALLY THE ENTIRE BACKSIDE OF THE NOSE GEAR HAD FRESH FLUID ON IT. I WENT UPSTAIRS AND ASKED THE FO IF HE HAD SEEN IT ON THE WALKAROUND; HE HAD NOT. I DIDN'T SEE IT WHEN I WALKED FROM OPS TO THE ACFT. I SHOULD NOTE HERE THAT THE PLANE HAS A HISTORY OF A LEAK AT THE NOSE GEAR. WHEN I WAS ON THE PHONE WITH MAINT CTL I WAS INFORMED ABOUT A THIRD LEAK. MAINT CTL CALLED CONTRACT MAINT. CONTRACT MAINT ARRIVED; THE THIRD LEAK WAS WATER DRIPPING FROM THE L WING. THE LEAK FROM THE WHEEL WELL WAS FROM A FITTING AT THE STANDBY PUMP. THE LEAK FROM THE NOSE GEAR WAS HARDER TO FIND. THE STANDBY PUMP LEAK WAS REPAIRED BY TIGHTENING THE FITTING. THE MECH THEN WENT TO WORK ON THE NOSE GEAR. HE CLEANED THE AREA AND WE PRESSURIZED THE SYS AND LOOKED FOR THE LEAK. MAINT CTL AND THE MECH BOTH SURMISED (CORRECTLY) THAT THE LEAK WAS COMING FROM THE UP LOCK ACTUATOR. THE LEAK COULD NOT BE DUPLICATED (SAME AS THE HISTORY). WHILE THE MECH WAS TALKING TO MAINT CTL AND WE WERE ALL LOOKING AT THIS; A NEW MAINT RELEASE CAME OVER THE PRINTER DEFERRING THE LEAK AT THE NOSE GEAR. I AM NOT SURE OF THE TIME LINE BECAUSE I WAS OUTSIDE. I ASKED FOR MORE TIME WITH PRESSURE ON THE SYS TO MAKE SURE THAT IT WASN'T LEAKING. THE AMOUNT OF FLUID HAD ME VERY CONCERNED. I WAS AS PROACTIVE AS I COULD GET JUST SHORT OF GETTING WRENCHES MYSELF. I TRIED TO KEEP EVERYONE INVOLVED WITH THIS FLT INFORMED AS TO WHAT WAS GOING ON. THE GENTLEMAN IN CHARGE IN ZZZ WAS WITH US THE ENTIRE TIME. I EXPLAINED WHAT EACH PART DID AND HOW IT OPERATED. I TALKED WITH THE FO AND GOT HIS OPINION. TRIED TO FIND SOMETHING I MAY HAVE MISSED; AN IDEA THAT SHOULD BE TRIED; MAYBE A PART OF MY THOUGHT PROCESS THAT WAS WRONG. I HAVE FRIENDS AND RELATIVES IN ALMOST EVERY DEPT HERE. I CAN APPRECIATE THE DIFFICULTIES OF THEIR JOBS. AS A RESULT; I DON'T MIND WHEN A SUPVR FROM ANOTHER DEPT ASKS ME QUESTIONS WHEN I ASK FOR FURTHER MAINT. THIS GIVES HIM INFO TO BETTER DO HIS JOB. THERE ARE EVEN TIMES WHEN SOMEONE ELSE HAS AN IDEA THAT I HAVEN'T THOUGHT OF AND THE FLT CAN BE COMPLETED SAFELY. FOR THIS FLT; I KNEW WE HAD OVER 50 INTL PAX THAT HAD TO GET TO ZZZ! ALL 5 OF US WOULD LIKE TO GET HOME; THERE WERE ANOTHER 200 PAX WAITING FOR US FOR THE FOLLOWING 2 LEGS. I ALSO KNEW THAT A REFUSAL COULD IMPACT THE LIVES AND PAYCHKS OF NOT ONLY MYSELF AND THE CURRENT CREW BUT OF THOSE WAITING FOR THE ACFT DOWN LINE. THE AMOUNT OF PRESS COVERAGE ACFT MAINT IS RECEIVING RIGHT NOW ALSO ENTERED MY THOUGHT PROCESS. I WAS LITERALLY UNDER THE ACFT LOOKING AT ALL THE HYD FLUID. I JUST COULDN'T BE SURE IF THE ACTUATOR WOULD CONTINUE TO HOLD PRESSURE. I WAS CONCERNED WHAT WOULD HAPPEN WHEN THE PISTON WAS MOVED. I DISMISSED ASKING MAINT CTL FURTHER; HIS OPINION SEEMED PRETTY CLR -- 'TAKE THE ACFT.' I JUST COULD NOT SAY I WAS 100% CONFIDENT IN THE SAFETY OF THE FLT WITHOUT LYING. THE ACT OF ZZZ OPS CALLING FLT OPS MAKES ME THINK THEY ARE QUESTIONING MY INTEGRITY; COMPETENCE; OR BOTH. THIS IS EXTREMELY INSULTING NOT JUST TO ME BUT TO THE ENTIRE FLT OPS DEPT. MY TRAINING HAS ALWAYS BEEN SAFETY FIRST AND FOREMOST. SAFETY ABOVE ALL ELSE; THAT INCLUDES THE IMPACT TO MY FAMILY. THE FO AND I BOTH LOST A DAY OFF. I NOW HAVE A CONFLICT THAT WILL RESULT IN A LOSS OF PAY. THAT'S PART OF OUR JOB. WE UNDERSTAND THAT; AND OUR FAMILIES ACCEPT IT AS WELL. WHEN ZZZ OPS GOT INVOLVED; THEY CREATED A HOSTILE AND POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS ENVIRONMENT.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of May 2009 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.