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Pilot and Mechanic Relationships

koop

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Our department's Pilot / A&P relationship is getting worse by the day. Our mechanics think we don't do anything but go out of town and play golf and have fun. The don't see all the time away from family and friends and all the long, long, long days. The two sides are basically at WAR. You can feel the hatred when you walk into the hangar. People are getting nails in tires, prank phone calls in the middle of the night, false accusations to the boss, etc. Does anybody know this pain? Are there any suggestions on what can be done?

Thanks for the advice in advance.
 

HawkDrvr

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I used to work for a company that had the aircraft mechanics that were union and we were exempt management which caused some problems. We had a pilot that had a grievance filed against him for pulling an airplane out of the hangar thereby performing "union work".

Aside from a good old fashioned house cleaning I'd say your problems will be difficult to solve. It's going to have to start with a department meeting to clear the air followed by some good will gestures by both sides. Perhaps start sending some of the mechanics on a few 4+ day trips might help.;)

Seems like every time I've seen departmental problems like this there is always 1 guy/gal that's the problem. If that's the case, find out who's stirring the pot and show 'em the door. Sounds bad, but I haven't seen things effectively solved any other way and if there's nails being put in tires it's definately reached that point. No HR department on the planet would tolerate that type behavior for a minute. If everyone watches this idiot carrying out all of his/her stuff in a cardboard box I'll bet things fall right in line. A department has to be one big happy family. It doesn't take many people to make everyone's life miserable, as you're obviously finding out.

I've heard of flight departments being closed over this type of discord. If word of this reaches senior management you all could feel the wrath. Can you imagine the CEO's response when he hears the department in charge of flying him/her is engaging in this type of behavior? It won't be pretty.

I can't resist recounting a classic example of dealing with a department "headache".... This the first Director of Aviation I worked for. Classic.

Director: So I hear that you've been messing around with "pilot A"...
Headache: Well, we've had some issues...
Director: O.K., but "pilot A" has been with us for 20 years and hasn't ever had these types of "issues" with anyone else. So, it's like this... When you F with him, then he comes to me and starts F'ing with me. So it's really the same thing as if you were to F with me directly... YOU SHOULD STOP...

End of problem... A=B=C, therefore A=C...:D His ability to break things down to its core ingredients was legendary.
 
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semperfido

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it has always been a bit of a traditional grievance. try to tone down the "fun" and golf aspects of the job when around them. try to help them whenever possible i.e wing walk, chalks, pins etc. pay close attention to maint aspects of job i.e briefs/de-briefs, what is going on with acft from maint view. treat them as equals. be very careful not to talk down or in a condescending manner. let the crap roll off your back. it takes time to turn it around. :)
 

208Tech

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Can't we all just get along?

A weekly box of doughnuts and talking with MX before writing up a squawk never hurts. I am not saying to have them talk you out of writing anything up, but the real jerk pilots are the ones who think they know more than the mechanic. You only know what FlightSafety has told you.

On the other hand; if they started out to be pilots and are wishing they were in your shoes, then they need to grow up and realize that life is not fair.
 
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skydivinguy

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you can try kissing their butts!
 

koop

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Hwkrdrvr you hit the nail on the head about ONE guy being the problem. Our director of maintenance has basically attacked every junior (10 years and under) pilot in our department. I think our Director of Operations is afraid of the guy and does nothing about his temper, false allocations, negative attitude, and so forth.

We all help with airplanes in and out of the hangar every flight. I have even tried the donuts on different occasions. It will be interesting to see how things work out. I have pretty much made it clear to my boss that the next time he falsely accuses me of doing something that I haven't done I will file a harrassment charge against him through our company. I know how huge of a situation this is but it seems to be my only way to get the guy off my back. I have 5 other pilots that said when I do they will join in and interview on my behalf if asked to go downtown. Does anybody have any experience on this drastic of a measure? I know it is crazy but maybe thats what it will take to get our nut job OUT!!!

I have been with this company for 8 years and the job and pay is great. The ONLY bad thing is the negative stigma that hangs over our hangar. If we didn't have that it would be perfect.

Thanks for all the help guys!
 

AA717driver

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Doughnuts to the good guys. Blanket party in the parking garage for the A-hole! :D TC
 

HawkerF/O

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From what you have written, it sounds like the DOM does not answer to the DO. In my opinion, that is a good thing. Who does the DO and DOM answer to? If the DOM does infact answer to the DO, then the DO needs to be fired. Either way, the DO needs to be shown the door for allowing this to go on. Same for the DOM, he needs to be let go for his antics. Keep in mind, both pilots and Mechs can be jerks. Mechs tend to have (not all of them of course) very narrow minds and focus. The famous, "Well, I am not going to fix this becasue it is still within limits" disgusts me more than anything else in aviation. At the same time, the plane gets broke and the boss is on the phone barking at the pilot and he is saying, "Yes Sir, I'll have it ready for the flight in the morning", all the while, he goes home and the Mechs are up all night turning wrenches getting none of the credit while the pilot looks like a hero. It's a vicious circle. A good leader would have put the skids on that on day 1.
If you are being accussed of doing things you are not doing, that's tough to live with, but you need to look out for yourself and not worry about anyone else. Take a day or 2 and write down everything that has happened. The powers that be are going to find out about all of this, it is just a matter of time. You need to go to them before they come to you. Take your list and go to HR with it. The HR dept knows the legal ramifacations (liability) of what is happening here. You might find yourself in just as much trouble when they do find out if you sat on this and didn't bring it to anyone's attention. I would use email for all correspondence. They might not write back to you, and if they don't that is on them, but by your use of email you are covering your read end. Also, openly copy HR (talk to HR and let them know wha tyou are doing) on those emails so whomever you are emailing knows you are serious. That way, you are covered.
Sounds like there is a lot going on there, and someone needs to come in with a broom and clean house. This type of unprofessionalism is what gets people hurt, and I know you don't want to be any part of that. Like others have said, I would tone down the resort style talk. Also, bringing your golf clubs out to the plane does not look good to the Mechs. Hunker down and conduct yourself like a by the book pilot, distance yourself from this mess and you might come out of it unscathed. Good luck.
 

semperfido

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koop said:
I have pretty much made it clear to my boss that the next time he falsely accuses me of doing something that I haven't done I will file a harassment charge against him through our company.
i doubt that this action will work out in your favor. have another talk with your boss and keep it cool. it is usually not good to issue ultimatums. avoid the problem person and don't listen to rumor and innuendo, as facts get distorted and blown out of proportion. what could he be accusing you of that is so bad it requires drastic action? if he doesn't say it to your face then ignore it. just do your job the best you can and ignore the petty BS.
 

CL60

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Good leadership and organization

koop said:
Our department's Pilot / A&P relationship is getting worse by the day. Our mechanics think we don't do anything but go out of town and play golf and have fun. The don't see all the time away from family and friends and all the long, long, long days. The two sides are basically at WAR. You can feel the hatred when you walk into the hangar. People are getting nails in tires, prank phone calls in the middle of the night, false accusations to the boss, etc. Does anybody know this pain? Are there any suggestions on what can be done?

Thanks for the advice in advance.

This type of situation can definitely be a safety issue and has been the catalyst for department sterilization on more than one occasion.

You need to revise or create clear job descriptions for all positions. All this must be sanctioned in your ops manual by upper management. Does everyone have a current ops manual? Also, your department managers appear to be weak leaders from your description of the situation. In addition to a good company operations manual, you need: good, professional, un-harnessed leadership to correct this problem.

Good luck,
 
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CL60

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koop said:
Hwkrdrvr you hit the nail on the head about ONE guy being the problem. Our director of maintenance has basically attacked every junior (10 years and under) pilot in our department. I think our Director of Operations is afraid of the guy and does nothing about his temper, false allocations, negative attitude, and so forth.

We all help with airplanes in and out of the hangar every flight. I have even tried the donuts on different occasions. It will be interesting to see how things work out. I have pretty much made it clear to my boss that the next time he falsely accuses me of doing something that I haven't done I will file a harrassment charge against him through our company. I know how huge of a situation this is but it seems to be my only way to get the guy off my back. I have 5 other pilots that said when I do they will join in and interview on my behalf if asked to go downtown. Does anybody have any experience on this drastic of a measure? I know it is crazy but maybe thats what it will take to get our nut job OUT!!!

I have been with this company for 8 years and the job and pay is great. The ONLY bad thing is the negative stigma that hangs over our hangar. If we didn't have that it would be perfect.

Thanks for all the help guys!

A general mutiny usually alerts the company that there is more to this problem than a simple personality conflict.
 

skydivinguy

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Wow, I didn't know things we're so rotten between pilots and mechanics (or I suppose, technicians in your world).

I have had the displeasure of dealing with incredible jerk pilots in my career one of which prided himself on writing up something (every time a non existant problem i.e. engine surging)and telling maintenance "it's down hard!". What a pr*ck!

I've also worked with mechanics that thought pilots are scum.

Well, like the 208Tech said, can't we all just get along?!?

We need one another don't we???
 

PlaneStupid

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This post is a pile of crap. What the hell? If someone does not like their job or their current situation they should do something else. Damage to someones personal property is criminal. Do you have to worry that your tire is going to blow out at 70 mph on the highway? This is freaking ridiculous.
 

HawkDrvr

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koop said:
Hwkrdrvr you hit the nail on the head about ONE guy being the problem. Our director of maintenance has basically attacked every junior (10 years and under) pilot in our department. I think our Director of Operations is afraid of the guy and does nothing about his temper, false allocations, negative attitude, and so forth.

We all help with airplanes in and out of the hangar every flight. I have even tried the donuts on different occasions. It will be interesting to see how things work out. I have pretty much made it clear to my boss that the next time he falsely accuses me of doing something that I haven't done I will file a harrassment charge against him through our company. I know how huge of a situation this is but it seems to be my only way to get the guy off my back. I have 5 other pilots that said when I do they will join in and interview on my behalf if asked to go downtown. Does anybody have any experience on this drastic of a measure? I know it is crazy but maybe thats what it will take to get our nut job OUT!!!

Thanks for all the help guys!
The chances of success for your planned course of action depends on several factors.

1. What's the relationship between the DOM and Director of Aviation.
2. Are they personal friends or even like each other ?
3. What type of credibility does the Director of Aviation hold with senior management ?
4. Is the DOM wired in somehow with senior management ?
5. Does your boss even feel that there's a problem? What was his reaction when you brought this to his attention?

My point is that before you tread down this dangerous path you need to do your research. More than one guy in your position has fallen prey to the old "Texas 2-Step". I've unfortunately been witness to a lot of this nonsense for only being 30 yrs. old. Too much already which is why I kind of like our small little department. I've seen and heard of only a precious few instances where a "general mutiny" worked out in favor of the lynch mob...
 
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helimech

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i agree that the best thing to do is to clean house. I've been the DOM for our company for awhile and before that I was the lead mechanic for 4 years, so it allowed me to sit back and watch how the big wigs wanted things ran. I watched 3 DOM's come through this place in the 5 years that I have been here. Every single one had their own little idea of how to run the place and it usually turned out to bite them in the rear. First off, the director of flight ops HAS to get along with the DOM, they at least have to keep a "good" line of communication between them. For awhile I had some problems with a few pilots, because i changed the way a few things were taking place and nobody likes change especially when they can't sit on their butts anymore (not an attack against pilots, just to long of a story to tell). If the DO gets along with the DOM, then that allows smoother interaction between all of the pilots, no matter how many you have. The doughnuts thing is nice and wing-walking is nice too, but don't ever look down on teh mechanics. Chances are they know more about the aircraft that you will ever and it's their job to do so. You also have to trust them, if you don't, then definately sit down with the DOM and talk about it, explain everything. You guys may have long hours, but what about the mechanics when they are there until 5 am so you can take the boss to the Bahamas. I'm not a pilot basher, I'm a pilot myself, I could go out and compete with a lot of you guys for a nice Captain position, I choose to be a mechanic, because I love what I do. Just try and get along and don't be afraid to suck up your pride every once in awhile, say thanks, I gaurantee that if you get along with you maintenance staff that you will feel more comfortable about doing your job and not having to worry about the safety of the aircraft. Remember, the aircraft always belongs to the mechanic, they just let you borrow it.
 

G100driver

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helimech, GREAT POST. I have tried it both ways and you speak the truth. Our mechs and pilots play the pilot vs mech game all the time, but at the end of the day it is all about the mission. WE are all a team and WE all have to help each other. WE will all look like idiots if in-fighting prevents US from completing the mission.
 

fly4kix

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Helimech, I think you said it better than anyone else could have. Great post, strife amongst maint. and flight crews has brought down more than a few good dept's. (no pun intended)
 

Gatorman

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pilot -vs- mech?

Well, at a company I was working for a while back, the president of the company thought it to be a good idea for all of the maintenance dept and all if the pilots that were available, go to TBC Team building Concepts. It is an indoor go-cart track off of I-35 in Dallas. We have a good time, but then again, the mechs and the pilots got alone anyway. The company also treated us for cookouts and birthday parties.

Where I am at now (a CRS) we might get the whole company together for a 'state of the union address'.

I too have come across a few scarf and stoggie pilots that thought I did not know which way to turn a wrench. Fortunately they might not come back here again......listen to this:

The aircraft has just landed and was pulling up on the ramp with the left thrust reverser out and the engine shut down. I ran out to look over the T/R and did not see and damage. I then went up inside the plane and asked what happened. The PIC told me that the T/R would not stow. I asked him if he used the EMER STOW and he said (here is the kicker) "Now why would I want to do that for?"

Here's your sign
 
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