Yesterday we met with Qantas again to discuss plans for the introduction of the new aircraft into the Qantas fleet. The Qantas delegation was led by Sandra Nieuwenhuijzen with some other managers attending including Dave Kelly from Maintenance Watch. There was no nice Qantas email yesterday afternoon about the wonderful spirit of co-operation between the parties. The reason for that will be explained below.
Qantas kicked discussions off with some manager we had never seen before who apparently is in charge of the project explaining how great the new aircraft was and that it now has a worldwide dispatch reliability of 98.9%. When asked why Jetstar only had a dispatch reliability of 60% he claimed that this was due to it being a new aircraft for them (despite Jetstar being one of the first airlines to receive 787’s). Sandra then confirmed that Qantas still wished to learn from Jetstar by implementing their procedures on the Qantas aircraft.
Dave Kelly gave a nice presentation about the new 787 technology and how onboard computer systems will report many faults to the ground as they occur. They plan for the 787 to be a paperless log system with defects reported down as they are recorded by the flight and cabin crews. Our questions related to how that data would be captured. After the presentation, it was clear that LAMEs will need to be monitoring the incoming aircraft and preparing for known work well before the plane arrives. Qantas explained that the aircraft will fly long sectors and flying crews will be close to their maximum flying limits. Because of this they cannot afford even small delays.
After this, there was some debate about possible rostering and how license training selection could work. Both these issues seem to have solutions that may be satisfactory for both parties. Beyond this we wanted to discuss some matters that we thought critical being A checks and C checks. Over several meetings, we had raised these subjects and each time it was made clear by Sandra that no decision had been made regarding this work.
After a series of questions put by us, Sandra let slip that the A checks would be done in Los Angeles. This decision had not just been made, plans for the Americans to do the work was locked in some time ago and all along they were being deceptive about our prospects of doing it. Sandra appeared visibly shaken about being caught red handed in front of so many people and sought a break from proceedings. When we resumed, she tried to explain away the faux par by stating that we had never asked them about LAX. It was highlighted in no uncertain terms that we had asked at every meeting about A checks and it was them who had never revealed LAX as the final destination for this work.
Looking back, it is now clear that Qantas do not value the good relationship we have tried to build over several years. These discussions were meant to be held in good faith and in return all we wanted from them was honesty. It was February 2016 when Alan Joyce invited us to get in on the ground floor and work with them as the 787 arrival plans were made. Chris Nassenstein delayed and postponed those discussions for over six months until it was too late. Between Feb and Oct flying schedules and routes were decided with the one big chunk of ground time for this plane set aside for Los Angeles.
Aside from our disappointment in the concealment of crucial information in relation to 787 work, we also have other concerns about the quality of work coming out of LAX. Their workforce is filled with many transient workers who leave after a short period to more secure employment. Because of this many of the Engineers there are inexperienced and appear to have the highest rate of maintenance errors within Qantas for the small amount of work they currently do.
After the dust had settled they then explained that no decision had been made about C checks. We do believe that this may be the case as those checks are nearly four years away. Then again, when they speak we will always view their answers with some suspicion from now on.
After yesterday’s events our negotiation team will be re-assessing our goals in light of the new information. The next meeting is scheduled for mid January.