Off-Time … On-Time!

Posted 06/28/04

By Keith Horton 

I enjoyed reading the earlier Contrail article by Ben Nicks about Jack Benny, but I do have to take exception to his statement in the first paragraph that said, "…when our westbound DC-3 took a delay for some reason or another, not unusual then and rather routine today…" Those words got my attention, since some were not aware of how hard we tried to eliminate delays.

With the splendid leadership of the Tech Services function by men like Ray Dunn, Al Jordan, Bill Neff and others, and down through the organization through Production Control, Engineering, Power Plant and Aircraft Overhaul at KCK and later at MCI, there was a constant effort to provide the airline with safe and reliable airplanes. This effort was also assisted by the hundreds, if not thousands, of able and expert mechanics at stations and maintenance bases across the entire system. And don’t overlook the efforts of those in Purchasing and Stores who saw to it that such things and wheels and tires and radio units and generators and propeller governors (in the old days) were in stock at field stations when needed, to say nothing of the operating crews who could work miracles without breaking a sweat.

Before I escaped into that other world of retirement in 1983, and entered the universe that "sure beats hell out of working," we had the airline running at better than a90% on-time basis as far as Maintenance performance was concerned, thanks to the splendid performance of all the people in Tech Services. We didn’t accept Maintenance delays as routine, and if any of you had ever tuned in to some our daily Maintenance PLF briefings you would have had to agree. Nearly every delay that occurred during the previous day was discussed and dissected to see what went wrong, and what steps should be taken to prevent a reoccurrence.

When you add other delays during the operation due to such things as weather, air traffic, passenger loading, etc., the airline was still operating at good performance levels. Even ten or so years ago, I remember reading in the Skyliner about the great effort and success in operating an on-time airline in an effort to win back some passengers.

I am now living down here in Topeka, Kansas, which is kind of like oblivion as far as hearing about air line operations and on-time performance, but I expect that among most of the operating airlines today, on-time operations is one of the prime objectives and delays are still not considered as routine.

Keith Horton, 1941-1983, served in Maintenance/Technical Services Engineering and Field Maintenance

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