The old Air Wisconsin originally ordered the ATP's back in the mid 80's - taking delivery of ten of them. After United bought ARW in 89-90, they sold the airline off in pieces. The IAD branch with the Jetstreams and the Dash 8's became Atlantic Coast. The BAe 146's at ORD and DEN were sold to Air Wisconsin Airline Corp (AWAC) - not the same outfit as before. Only the most desperate and bottom feeding of the airline bosses would be willing to get stuck with the massive, orphaned, maintenance dependent ATP's.
Enter Hulas Kanodia, president of Trans States Airlines.
He bought the ten (soon to be nine) aircraft fleet, gave his evil creation what was clearly the most ridiculous name for an airline - ever, offered the pilots less than half what they had made flying the same aircraft to the same destinations for the same fee for departure rate that ARW was paid, and hung out his shingle. United Feeder Service was born. Many of the old Air Whisky ATP pilots said 'no thanks', and found other jobs.
Doofus managed to struggle through nine years of mediocre service before calling it quits in the face of a United reduction - of - subcontractor push in early 2000.
Its amazing that old Hulas made it that long, since his somewhat unique methods of running an airline were hard on his customers. When the aircraft APU's came up for overhaul he said "What do we need heat, air and starting capabilities in the northern midwest for? Pull 'em out!" When his minimum wage ORD rampers found it beyond their abilities to service the potable water systems he said "Our customers don't need to wash their hands after using our hideous lavatories, deactivate the water systems. Oh, and we won't need to service the coffee makers anymore since there won't be any water to make coffee with!" When maintenance costs started to erode his profits he said "I've got an idea, we can use 18 year old A&P school wannabes to do all the actual work on the airplanes and just have the maintenance supervisor sign off on it!" After determining that utilizing the nice, quiet 900 RPM cruise - prop setting cost him marginally more money in overhauls he cried "Let my crews go deaf and my passengers suffer, vibration never killed anyone!". Hulas inspired such loyalty that after a two day Chicago snowstorm, just when we were going to get things running again, operations were paralyzed when not one single ramper bothered to show up for work (out of twenty - something that were usually scheduled).
United was mostly at fault for the continued awful service. They paid Hulas the same fixed fee per departure, giving him no reason to maintain, let alone improve service. If the aircraft flew from here to there as the scheduled flight number he got paid. No matter how late. No matter if ANY of the passenger's' bags went with them. No matter if the destination weather made actually landing there unlikely (got paid for diversions, too).
The only, and I mean only, thing that made it work was the dedication of the crews and (some of the) agents. I saw an endless number of situations where individuals went out of their way to help passengers - without recognition and in possible jeopardy from petty infractions of the endless rules.
Woah... I went back and re-read the previous screed and am amazed that it was produced without the help of adult beverages. I didn't help you understand the aircraft much, though.
The ATP was a response to the ATR 72 and the Dash 8 -300. In typical British fashion, when faced with a situation that could be solved by inventive simplicity or overwhelming engineering, BAe would always choose the latter. While getting off on the right foot by modifying the HS 748, they strayed from the course by installing full EFIS, a radar screen electronic checklist, untested 13ft diameter six - bladed composite props, and a rube goldberg, fly - by - wire standby flight control system that made it feel like you were flying the aircraft after a couple of bong hits. It even had freakin' reverse thrust levers like a jet, even though all the other turboprops I flew managed just fine with gates on the power levers. In an attempt to compare their aircraft to the much more successful ATR, the Vmo graph looked like a sawblade. Memorizing this limitation produced guffaws of nervous laughter because it was so ridiculous. But hey, at 21,500 ft it was as fast as the ATR 72.
By the time I got to UFS, all the good stuff about the aircraft was either deactivated or worn out beyond recognition. No APU's, no water (as noted above), myriad engine and prop problems etc. During the short eight months I worked there I was so worried about being violated for some overlooked maintenance issue by a zealous fed, I never was able to enjoy the aircraft. I was gone by the time UFS went tlts up and flew the last ATP to the desert. The last I heard some of the ex - doofus ATP's were hauling cargo in Sweden or Norway. BAe only managed to build 55 of them, one of which was the prototype Jetstream 60 (god only knows what other over - engineered crap they had planned for THAT abortion) that was never delivered to a customer.
The BAe ATP will be recognized by a select few as one of the more obscure regional aircraft ever produced.
Thanks for the very informative post NJ Capt. I would have really liked to fly that bird. It looks fun fore some reason. I rolled around laughing about the flying the airplane after a few bong hits comment, that was funny.
I must agree with most of what njcapt said....however the A&P dig wasnt at all accurate. I worked there for close to two years as an A&P while I was instructing. One, I never washed out of A&P school, nor did any of the other mechanics that worked there. Many were very experienced and had degrees, but we needed jobs, and in the mid ninties the market had fully opoened to mechanics just yet. We did the best we could, but when the bosses in SBN are threatening your job, you tend to be creative. As far as the Feds, they weree in out little trrailer at least once a week, but if the paperwork was good, they were happy, they would walk by and write up an aircraft on the way. As far as supervisors, we had one very good one and one very poor one...the good one signed things off, but could back it up, the other one I think didnt know how to use a pen.
I will say i had a blast working there, we worked hard but the maint. department was all under the age 27.......we called it the playhouse.
But then United hired all the god talent away....Hulas brought in jets...that is a whole other story......and the writing was on the wall...........so I too left.
njcapt you were right on with the rest of the story.........classic example of how to run an airline to the ground, mess with good people, and basically take a fairly soild airplane and make it a dog with fleas.
>As far as supervisors, we had one very good one and one very poor one...the good one signed things off, but could back it up, the other one I think didnt know how to use a pen. <
Yeah, I know exactly who you are talking about.
Sorry about the dig on the wrench turners. They did as much as they could with few resources. I came on board in the wake of the mechanic deliberately cutting the brake backup lines (sorry if my system knowledge of the ATP is rusty, its been a long time) in order to get another guy in trouble. That didn't make such a good impression on me.
I had quite a few scary maintenace stories while there, though. A fuel leak that sprayed fuel all over a hot engine the whole way from ORD that ignited when I pulled up in front of the SBN maintenance hanger. A Captain's seat that was attached to the cockpit floor skin but not the underlying framework that would have offered no resistance in an accident. And an oxygen thermal discharge line that was not directed outside but under the Captain's seat, which would have made things interesting in a cabin fire.
Just recently got back from a multi-day cultural enhancement trip and catching up on the mishmash in this board. Came across your account on the HS748 and Hulas Kanodia. That was one **CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED** funny detailed account. I commend you for your gut buster.