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woodreau

Equipment Problem Discovered btwn Gate and Takeoff

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AA flight ORD-FRA returned to gate tonight because of "problem discovered in our equipment checks" after leaving the gate and on the way to the runway. "If we had discovered this problem in the air, we would have had to divert, as we cannot cross the Atlantic without this equipment."We were also 45 minutes late leaving the gate as we waited for connecting passengers.-- Any thoughts on what the equipment was?-- Especially with the extra time at the gate spent waiting, what checks would be done after leaving the gate?I have wondered in the past why all checks aren't done while waiting, as the problem could have been addressed earlier instead of compounding the wait with a 'late' discovery. Thoughts?

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I have wondered in the past why all checks aren't done while waiting,All the checks that can be done have been done - but some things cannot be tested fully until the engines are started, the plane is buttoned up and everything is on-line for flight.Yes, they could button up the plane - taxi it around for a few minutes and come back to the gate to load passengers - but think of the costs and inconvenience that would add to the system and your ticket.It's like the magneto checks you do before takeoff in your FS piston aircraft. Yes you can do them at the parking spot.But in the real world - you better do them one last time just before takeoff.-- Any thoughts on what the equipment was?The list is long - it could be anything from the special HF radios to a pressurization system not passing a check, to who knows what. The way you quote - it sounds like something to do with navigation, but it might be something else.Though such delays are frustrating for passengers, they are even worse for the airline. They are expensive, they cost the pilots and crew hours and potentially pay.But I'd prefer a pilot who is willing to say - "No, the book says we don't fly with this problem. We're not going" Rather than one who says we can do without that system/ item.I was told long, long ago when a pilot does not want to takeoff in an aircraft - listen to him and be glad he's got the guts to make the call to cancel.

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Like Reggie said... the list is long... and this is just from a GA (General Aviation) perspective.Aircraft are type certificated with certain equipment that are required for certain flight operations (e.g. Night VFR) or equipment added under an STC (supplemental type certificate... one just doesn't "throw a new radio" or device into an aircraft w/o an STC). And if it's a part of the aircraft, it better be working. You may think this is a joke when I say, "including the cigarette lighter," (something I learned as a maintenance student) but the FARs are extremely strict (if not nonsensical) in regards to these things. It is no joke to the FAA as "they" are quite serious about it. Again... from a GA perspective, here's an article by John Yodice which might give you an idea of what pilots are faced with in terms of inoperative equipment: http://www.flyredstar.org/Documents/RPA_Inop_Equip.pdfGA aircraft will sometimes have an MEL (minimum equipment list) which, I believe, any aircraft operating under an Air Carrier Certificate (FAR 121) will have. If it's on the MEL and it is inoperative, it won't be "legal" to fly unless it's dealt with appropriately (fixed/marked inop/etc.).These "guys" are in the business to make money (which has been a constant battle for air carriers to be profitable since the early days of commercial passenger aviation). Like Reggie said, must be certain checks that can't be done at the gate or that are routinely checked during taxi according to their SOP... and either because of "legality" or a "safety of flight" issue, it must outweighed the cost(s) of cancelling a flight. Yes, hats off to the pilot who is not willing to bow to whatever pressure there is to continue a flight when an issue such as this arises.Rob O.

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One of the things about new airplanes these day is that the airplane itself is monitoring a lot of the systems and the first thing the crew knows about it is when an EICAS message displays on their screen.If it happens at the gate - well you call maintenance and get it looked at - you can delay boarding, etc. get it fixed before you depart. But there a lot of messages at the gate as the aircraft isn't started up, but you tend to know what messages are supposed to be there and what isn't.Sometimes messages occur after you've left the gate but before takeoff. You run the checklists, but you also have to check the Minimum Equipment List to see if the airplane is airworthy still to takeoff (because you're not airborne yet). There are a lot of messages that do come up where the checklist will state that there is no pilot action required (e.g. continue flight to destination), but when you look at the MEL - the message will ground the aircraft.

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