Monday, January 30, 2006

We Gotta Get Out of This Place: Evacuating the Airbus A380

One thing that's on the minds of a lot of Airbus watchers is the upcoming emergency evacuation certification test for the A380. Although a test date has not been scheduled, it's some months off at least. An entire maximum capacity interior will have to be installed in the A380 completion center in Germany, about 800 or so average folks will have to be rounded up for the Big Show, not all the doors will be available, and they'll have to all clear out and down the slides in less than ninety seconds.

The last large evacuation test I heard about was on the MD11, which yielded a fair amount of bruises, scrapes and burns on the nether parts of some folks who went down the slides. One participant was rendered a paraplegic when she went down the slide face first and crashed into some other passengers. As it happened, the MD11 did not get certified for the full load, but only managed 407 or something like that which was, in fact, pretty close to the maximum.

The A380 evacuation test for the money promises to be a hair raising event for a lot of reasons, not the least of which will be the height that upper deck passengers will have to descend.

There is a most interesting article that has been published in this context by Martyn Amos and Andrew Wood, two computer scientists at the University of Exeter, in which they conclude through computer modeling that even a modest delay in getting people through the door and down the slide will cause the A380 to fail the 90 second "all out" requirement.

There is a link to the complete article at the address below

One thing I'm also interested in is the emergency door mechanisms. On the MD11 the passenger doors were plug type doors that were not attached to the structure and retracted to the overhead by way of electric motors and windlasses. In an emergency, "blowing the door" would trigger a nitrogen bottle that operated a very powerful motor. When the handle was pulled the door was going to open, VERY rapidly and nothing was going to stop it.

From the photos I've seen the A380 doors are similar to what Boeing uses-they open outward and are attached to the fuselage. Emergency power is apparently electric, as there have been reports of contracts let for high duty capacitors to power the door in the event of a power failure.

Err, well, errata of a sort. Not exactly a Homer Simpson moment but close.

I'm informed by a colleague that my attributions of bad motive to the stillborn (as I call it LB-737) program were correct but the attribution of those bad motives could well be laid at the door of collective bargaining representatives in the Great Northwest who decided that a few crumbs from their table were going to be a few crumbs too many.

My correspondent says that tools, jigs, and fixtures had to be loaded back on the trucks and sent back to wherever they came from.

Ah well-so much for the solidarity of working people the world over, huh?

There are a couple of news items that are worth noting in this connection.

a Boeing press release and

the latter being from the Los Angeles Business Journal, March 1, 1999 entitled "Boeing Overhaul May Cast Shadow on Long Beach California" by Dan Taub

I think my central thesis is still valid-that the LB-737 program was as dead on arrival as last week's refuse from the Pike Street Market.

Straws in the Wind II: Say It Ain't So, Mr. Baseler.

There's an interesting article by Stephen Trimble in Flight International today about the C17 Globemaster III. It reports that the procurement process for long lead items will be shut down within the next sixty days if no new orders are received. What's Boeing's solution to the impending demise of all heavy aircraft manufacturing south of the Columbia River?

Boeing is proposing that the existing delivery schedule for the C17 be stretched out until everyone figures out whether the C5 RERP, about which more below, will be a success or not.

Maybe I'm just an ignorant hillbilly from Iowa but what in the hell kind of proposal is that? The effort to find something to do with the C17 beyond the initial order book should have started nearly fifteen years ago.

Yet, as we have seen, Boeing acquired the McDonnell Douglas facility in Long Beach, only to let the MD11 ( a viable freight hauler) expire on the operating table and let the MD80/90 line bleed to death. It now seems that the C17 is headed for the last roundup. This tends to support those who think that acquisition of the Long Beach facility could well have been intended, not to produce airplanes or to acquire the knowledge and resources of the Long Beach plant and the people who worked there, but to make damned sure that nobody else would ever build heavy jets anywhere in the US but in Washington state.

Oh, of course there was some discussion ten years ago of maybe setting up another B737 production line in Long Beach but that went nowhere in a big hurry. My guess? That idea was as dead on arrival as last week's Pacific salmon.

Think I'm misguided? If you want to get into any business where the cost of getting yourself established is high, it's far better to purchase a going operation and reconfigure it than to buy everything new from the ground up and try and assemble a pool of trained workers and a knowledge base. We see that here in the center of the country when large meat packers buy up productive capacity and idle it so as to keep local interests from getting too big for their britches. In fact, this is a tactic one of my clients used in his business to take productive capacity and put it beyond the reach of potential competitors.

I've suggested before that the C17 plant and everything inside it is owned by the taxpayers. Boeing, not being interested in the workers or in the region never had a real investment to protect by marketing the finest airlifter-hell, the ONLY airlifter-in its class. The decision has been taken, the patient will breathe for a while longer, but its expiry is as certain as God made little red apples in the Yakima valley.

Now. One thing about blogdom is we's all equal. At least that's the theory.
Here's another fellow's blog that seems to have a following.

So Randy, say it ain't so.

Here's the RERP information.

The airlift fleet will consist of 180 C17s, yet another C5 upgrade for 112 frames, and 550 C130 Herks. The C5 program will consist of glass cockpits and new engines, so it seems that Lockheed Martin has succeeded in extending the life of the venerable C5.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Chrysler A57 Part II

I recently made the acquaintance online of a fellow in Belgium named Fons Paulussen who has a website devoted to various militaria projects that he and others in the great nation of Belgium have worked on. The pictures are from his excellent site and he has graciously granted me permission to republish them.

Fons has asked me to mention that the Sherman Firefly is from the Royal Army and History Museum in Brussels, Belgium. The Firefly is an M4A4 Sherman which was upgunned with a British 17 pdr to give the crew something that could deal with later German armor. It may not have made the Sherman any safer, but it could sting a lot better than the standard issue 75mm gun originally fitted.

Here's a link to his site.

Straws in the Wind: Where's Shamu II.

In an article in the Khaleej Times today by Isaac John sure to make the ears of Airbus kibitzers everywhere perk up, Emirates, the single largest holder of orders for the Airbus A380, warned that further delays to the program would create "problems".

The subscript, of course is that Emirates is considering a large order for either the Boeing 787 or the Airbus A350, and the Emirates managing director suggested that he found the use of advanced composite structures attractive because of the potential for better fuel economy.

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want my best customer to even think that anything I was doing could be remotely described as a "problem", especially if my competition had something that resembled a "solution".

If Boeing commits to developing a long range version of the 787, the chances are good that they may land a substantial order for the 787-10 from Emirates according to the article.

All of this makes interesting reading, and it suggests that there may be some very interesting developments in advance of the Asian Aerospace fandango in Changi next month.§ion=business&col=

Well, That Didn't Take Long: Palestinian Politics II

Earlier in the day I speculated what the outcome of the recent victory of the Hamas thugs over the Fatah crooks in the recently concluded Palestine Parliament elections might be.

Word wasn't long in coming.

According to UPI, three people were wounded in a slugfest that broke out at a mosque in Khan Younis as a pro Fatah imam gave a sermon that was critical of Hamas. The article also points out that 9 of the new electees are serving time in jails, mostly in Israel. That means seven per cent of the Palestinian Parliament are in jail.

In addition thousands of Fatah supporters demonstrated in Gaza and various venues in the West Bank, burning cars and discharging weapons and demanding that corrupt Fatah fnctionaries resign their posts in the government and otherwise make no peace with the Hamasistas.

Lastly, Reuters reports that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade factions of Fatah have announced that they will "liquidate" Fatah leaders who decide to join a Hamas administration.

If Twice as Big is Twice as Good, Then Five Times As Big Has to be Five Times As Good-the Chrysler A57 Multibank Engine.

One of the difficulties that tank designers faced in the frantic rearmament of the late 1930s was coming up with a suitable powerplant. When the reality sunk in that a shooting war with Fascism was a distinct likelihood, designers in the U.S. and Britain turned to nearly anything that they could get their hands on to power their creations. Nothing was safe and no design was too goofy.

Consider that what was needed was something that had the right power output and plenty of torque right where it was needed. If it was reliable, durable and economic, so much the better-but the need was for torque, and lots of it.

The British had a selection of tandem engines, but the best that they had early on was the Nuffield V-12 that was a water cooled Liberty aero engine of World War I. In the American made M3 Grant and M4 Sherman, a variety of powerplants were used that included a collection of adapted radial aircraft engines, the Ford GAA V-8 (what else?), GM diesels, and that most unlikely of creations, the Chrysler A57 multibank engine.

The A57 was five Chrysler flathead six cylinder engines mounted on a common crankcase. The engine that was thus created was capable of about 450 shaft horsepower. In its initial iterations it was unreliable, valve and seat life was short, synchronization must have been a problem, and it was decided that all the M4A4s that used this configuration would be sent to the British.

Well, the British were used to making do with goofy stuff, so they set to, and between the engineers at Chrysler and the input of the British Purchasing Commission, the A57 was turned into a reliable and robust power plant. All it needed, it seemed, was stellite valves and seats.

I've found an interesting website where a bunch of fellers over in Europe have restored an ex-Belgian Army Sherman Firefly, and it's got some great photos of the A57. I recommend it highly.

Slouching Toward the Abyss: The Morning After The Palestinian Elections

In this morning's Der Spiegel is an interesting article that describes some of the political background to yesterday's Palestinian parliamentary elections. Hamas gained what can only be called a tub thumping victory in a real election, and the future existence of Fatah, the old Arafat party of corruption and conspiracy is doubtful. It is clear that hangovers and headaches are the order of the day.,1518,397558,00.html

The previous arrangement was as good as a three card monte table in Deadwood, South Dakota for people in Fatah who had access to the cash that flowed into the Palestinian governmnent's accounts. Yassir Arafat, it is reported, siphoned off at least $900 million to his accounts, and he was able to send his wife $100,000 per month to maintain herself and the household in gay Paree. The suckers who forked over the dough were fleeced, and the Arab man and woman in the street got years of empty promises, shameless posturing, back alley deals, and nothing to show for years of misrule. Had Sharia been strictly enforced, there wouldn't have been a member of the ruling party with a right hand.

Well, the voters couldn't be expected to put up forever with an administration that would have made that of Hugh J. Addonizio, late mayor of Newark, New Jersey look like a model of probity and good governance. Whether they've gotten anything that will serve them any better remains to be seen. Past history suggests that the man in the street is facing long odds if he expects reform.

In realpolitik terms, as long as Fatah was running the show, the Palestinians weren't going to amount to anything any more than there would be a Newark Renaissance. That was good for Israel. Now the deck's been shuffled, there's a new hand of cards to play, and it remains to be seen whether the new crew can be as thoroughly corrupted at their predecessors.

On the other hand, there probably is not much about the new players and their program that is not known where it matters in Israel, given the porosity of Palestinian security.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Where's Shamu? Silence From Toulouse.

During the Paris Airshow of 2005 the Airbus A380 was decidedly the belle of the ball and the star of the show. Such massive quantities of Airbus aluminum flying in tight formation got the attention of nearly everyone except a few people at the Boeing works who, like master poker players, were no doubt then planning the introduction of the 787 at just the right moment to grab the spotlight.

And grab it they did with a technological tectonic shift away from metal airplanes that will rewrite the rule book in the commercial aircraft world as clearly as the shift to metal monocoque construction doomed the Curtiss Condor and the Fokker Trimotor in the 1930s.

After a summer of indecision, the answer from Toulouse was an expression of me-tooism, the A350, which competes right in the 787 slot-which also means that Airbus had concluded that there was, in fact, demand for smaller long range aircraft that would serve a more fragmented market, as Boeing had assumed and designed for. Of course, deliveries will lag two years behind the 787, and it's a derivative of the A330/340 so it isn't a rule maker.

Well. Boeing introduced the 747-8, which promises to siphon off a number of orders for very large aircraft that might have gone in the A380 column. Again, the master poker players in Chicago stayed their hand until it was time.

But ever since that flurry of interest and heavily discounted production slots that were flying off Leahy's order pad in the spring of 2005, nobody's ordered the A380. The order book has been stalled at 159 since the middle of last year, and that was before it was announced that deliveries would lag six months or more and when unscheduled engine changes on the flight test aircraft raised questions about the service entry readiness of the big Trent.

Airbus is doing a nice imitation of Greta Garbo when it comes to questions about weight, performance, delivery schedules, compensation for late deliveries and the vitality of the engine program. Why is that?

The Asian Aerospace exhibition at Changi next month should therefore prove to be most interesting for Airbus kibitzers. As a high publicity venue, the A380 could gain a much needed shot in the arm and a lot of free publicity if it lands some orders that are more than wishful thinking.

On the other hand, if the A380 does not land some substantial orders or present a coherent program that airline operators can hang their hats on, the future of the program could be questionable. Orders now on the books could evaporate if the program takes any more hits-I'm here to tell you that Singapore Airlines, for one, will not hesitate to cancel its orders if they do not get the answers they need. They cancelled an order for 20 MD11s under similar circumstances.

Time will tell, however. The airlines will vote with their dollars or euros as the case may be, and they will place orders for airplanes based on the market research that they are all busy doing. Is the data showing something nobody at the Toulouse crackhouse wants to talk about?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

All You Wanna Do Is Ride Around, Sally.

The word came down this afternoon that Wilson Pickett had died today at the age of 64. I'd forgotten how well he could belt out a tune, and for that reason I shall haul out my vinyl and crank up the old KLH directly.

I went to the last big Murray the K show in NY back about 1967 or so with my girlfriend Lynn, who had stolen my heart temporarily before she decamped to Norway. One of the featured acts was the Wilson Pickett Soul Review. The only thing that even came close was Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels.

Damn, the man had style and voice power that may not be seen for a long time to come. He was on stage in a bright spotlight, dressed in a green and gold iridescent suit with a moderately sized Afro-if you have to ask what all that was you're too young. There was a three girl chorus on the side, and the band was behind him on chrome columns and waaaaaaaaaay at the top was a dude on a double set of drums-and the horns! Oh my word! the horns!

One thing's for sure-the party over on the Other Side sure got a lot louder and more fun because now, they got somethin' to DANCE to.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Back in the day, I attended a slightly whacky junior college tucked away in the White Mountains of Nuevo Hampshire. It was an interesting place to be, and I correspond regularly on a bulletin board where survivors and fellow travellers come to chat.

This story comes from the pen of one Ned Depew, a mostly unflappable Hudson River Dutchman who has a knack for the pen. Take it away Nedly.

When my grandmother died in 1965, she had a library of about 2,000 volumes - a list that varied from bound sets of "Classics" (some never cut) that had been purchased for their "decorator" value rather than their content, to a few Readers Digest Condensed Books volumes which I think had belonged to one of her housekeepers. My Grandmother was actually not much of a reader - in fact, I don't ever remember her reading a book in the entire time I knew her.But Franconia was struggling to meet a requirement for accreditation - a library of at least (I think the figure was) 20,000 volumes. I asked Ed Doro - then the Theosophist/Poet/Librarian (I still have signed copy of his self-published book) - if these books would help, and he said yes, so Ollie and I (and Dennis Darragh?) set off in the College's Giant Senicruiser for darkest New Jersey.We picked up the books and returned in a heavy snowfall, devoid of all other vehicles except snowplows from Concord north. But we made it. Ollie's several years of driving experience in northern New Hampshire (he grew up in Campton) served us well, as we followed the plows, crashed through a couple of large drifts (just for fun) and vastly enjoyed the harrowing trip with all the heedless confidence of our years. With all that weight and sensible New Hampshire snowtires all around, the Senicruiser was virtually unstoppable, the heater more than adequate, the radio not bad. Storytelling was the best part - in the dark with the storm outside. And of course there are few things more beautiful than a heavy snowfall in northern NH. Cresting the Notch, to see the Village below and the College twinkling through the snow on the hill was yet another magical aspect of my time in FC.The College kindly printed bookplates for all my Grandmother's books that said "Gift of Hazel E. Depew." It's kind of neat to think of some Phillipino picking one up and wondering who the hell Hazel Depew was and how her books got to Leyte! Part of the far-reaching, ongoing, totally unpredictable legacy of FC. Magic is afoot.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Recently a colleague of mine discovered what may have been the first thing I ever published. Looking backwards, it stands the test of time pretty well-maybe I was on to something.

Many thanks to Bill Manser for this blast from the past.

From the pages of Spray Starch way back in 1968.

by Bob Luedeman

we were looking for love and found

only what apppeared to be


because when we were so busy looking for love

there was nobody left to give love.

( the fat man in the diner said that love was bodily heat


the waitress didnt claim to know anything at all


that was the smartest thing

anyone said all night )

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Memo to Boeing. Skip the Geritol and train some kids.

I've been reading an interesting article today in the Seattle paper which compares the production culture in Boeing and in Airbus plants.

In it the most significant part is referred to in passing and that is the relative ages of the worker bees in the factories of Airbus and of Boeing. Boeing's average production worker is 49 years old, while Airbus' average production worker is 30 years or so old.

This tells me a couple of things.

First, the constant buildups and layoffs that have characterized the American aircraft manufacturing industry ensures that the only people who get to stay put are those who have managed to accumulate enough seniority and bump rights so that they're never out of a job. In my department at Douglas back in 1992 there were 55 inspectors After 4 years I was fourth from the bottom. The highest seniority employee hired in in 1948, the year I was born.

Most of the inspectors had sufficient seniority so when the cutbacks and layoffs started coming they were insulated from all but plant closures. As departments in plant closed, they exercised their bargained for bumping rights to push young folk out on the street and into an uncertain future. When the first wave of layoffs in the MD11 program started coming, one young mechanic walked into the bathroom in the lobby of Building 2, took out a revolver and committed suicide.

It appears that the same thing may be true with Boeing-there is a gerontocracy of determined oldsters with super seniority that will defeat any new blood they hire in the next slowdown in the aircraft cycle. Not that I have anything particular against old folks, being one myself, but someone who's knocked down thirty years in an aircraft plant with the mountain of benefits that accrue ought to down tools and make room for some new folks coming along. It's called sharing the wealth.

It also tells me that Boeing is not investing in the young people of America through apprenticeships and cooperative programs to train the next generation of rivet bashers, wire splicers, tank sealers and tin benders as Airbus seems to be doing. Of course, Boeing ramped up in recent years which should have lowered their average age somewhat, but what it will be in the next downturn will be something to take seriously along with the Geritol and walkers they'll be handing out to the workers who survive. For that I must say (unhappily) shame on Boeing and viva Airbus.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


I went to an auction today and bought a box of paper goods with some Douglas memorabilia and look what I found. It was a layoff notice that a guy got in 1946. It is pretty much identical to the one I got and if I can find mine it'll get posted here. Study it carefully, because they have a lot of these forms and yours is probably ready.

Friday, January 13, 2006

It's not often in life that we get to meet our past going forward, but that's the case here. This is Victoria and she's the apple of her grandpa and grandma's eye.

She is also all the argument anyone would need to support the proposition that he who saves one life saves an entire world.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sooner than I thought-Vaya con dios, Globemaster.

In a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, it is reported that the Defense Department has asked for $265 million in next year's budget to mothball the tooling and equipment used in the manufacture of the Boeing (Douglas) C-17 Globemaster III. At present, 140 or so have been delivered to the Air Force and the R.A.F., and the total order book is about 180. Unless the order book is extended, that will be the end of the line for the Douglas plant. When the C17 line dies, it will be the end of heavy aircraft manufacturing in southern California, once the world's center of gravity to the trade.,1,7405527.story?coll=la-headlines-business

More recently, in the proceedings of a supplier conference reported in the Independent Press Telegram, Boeing gave mixed signals as to what it plans to do if the program is not extended. As one might expect in this day and age, it was reported that the meeting focused on-what else?-what suppliers could do to cut costs.

My advice to anyone working at the facility would be "Stop spending money-take as much overtime as they give you-bank your cash and start thinking about what you're going to do when the plant closes."

I suggested when I started this blog that the entire history of the acquisition of McDonnell Douglas by Boeing was heavy with portents of hard times for the industry in the Basin, and I do not think I was being insufficiently sanguine in that prediction. It's been clear from "jump street" that the acquisition was never intended to utilize the capacity and resources of the Long Beach plant. Rather, eliminating that hated, pesky Southern California rival was the game all along.

In a play on an old aphorism, my mother used to say "Time wounds all heels." Let us hope it is so.

Here's some combat art I found in a small package of photographs I bought at an auction. It's out of the China-Burm-India theatre of operations and it's on the nose of a B24 Liberator. I will be publishing more of this art as I dig it out.

As this is being written the public confirmation hearings for 3rd Circuit judge Samuel Alito are in their last day. He has been nominated to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.

He is clearly cut from a different bolt of cloth than John Roberts is.

It is my hope that Mr. Chief Justice Roberts will bring a certain modesty and midwestern habit of plain speaking and common sense to the Court that has been lacking in recent years. He impressed me as a thoughtful, intelligent and modest man who would be a useful counter to the intellectual gymnastics and sharp words of Justice Scalia and his Charlie McCarthy-like pal Clarence Thomas. Justice Scalia's main problem is that he thinks he's smarter than everyone else, knows better than us what's good for the rest of us and is out to prove it whether we like it or not.

I do not yet have a fix on Sam Alito except that I distrust people who smile all the time-it seems as if it's an effort calculated to deflect any probing inquiry. It's a habit that we often see in women but it is less frequently seen in men. It seems as if it is a promise that is never going to be delivered on, intended to gain a temporary advantage, or a put down all at once.

Time will tell whether he is a smartypants or a dissembler when he gets to the Court as he likely will. Even though he is from my home state of New Jersey, and there is 2 years difference between us, and we're both lawyers, we don't (and never did) inhabit the same world. I grew up in a different New Jersey than he did.

When Sam was learning his chops as a lawyer I was working in a paper mill as a millhand. When he was climbing the ladder of federal service, I was camped out on a sofa in my father's apartment, because I was paying support for two young 'uns. When he was an assistant U.S. Attorney, I was selling auto parts, riding a B.S.A. motorcycle, and not thinking much about the future. When he was working in the Reagan administration, I was setting out across country in a 75 dollar Ford Falcon with my life savings of $700 in my pocket to attend technical school in a state and city I'd never been to.

Time will tell whether he rises to the occasion or makes common cause with the bickerers and cavillers who are now the minority in the Court. If he does the latter, it's going to be a long hard slog before things get better.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Here's another piece of combat art I found in the archives that I took in the early eighties. If anyone knows the lineage of the Regal Beagle or the people involved (Major Bill Crawford pilot or T/Sgt Don Kessel crew chief) let me know-heck, let them know the Beagle was immortalized on film.

Here's Steve Taylor and Joe Craig out behind the motor shop at Garrett in the early eighties. Steve doesn't look much different these days.

The title of this picture has got to be "Your tax dollars hard at work.

This old girl was parked in the boneyard at Davis Monthan AFB. She's a Viet Nam era Republic F105 "Thud". I wonder what stories she'd tell.

I've published a couple aviation related law review articles if anyone's interested. Since space is limited I'm reprinting the LEXIS headings. If you'd like you can always email me for a copy at

Copyright (c) 2000 San Joaquin College of Law
San Joaquin Agricultural Law Review


10 S.J. Agri. L. Rev. 121

LENGTH: 14925 words


NAME: Robert W. Luedeman *


* Robert W. Luedeman, B.A., California State University-Long Beach; J.D., Drake University; LL.M. (Agricultural Law), University of Arkansas-Fayetteville; is Assistant County Attorney, Madison County, Iowa and a journeyman aircraft mechanic. The author is indebted to Professor Lonnie Beard of the University of Arkansas Law School for suggesting this subject.

... The process of aerial application of agricultural chemicals is well suited to the way agriculture is practiced in much of the Mississippi Delta. ... Neither of these cases, therefore, stand for the proposition that Arkansas has generally adopted strict liability in the aerial application field. ... It does not, however, stand for the principle that Arkansas has adopted strict liability standards for aerial application of agricultural chemicals in all circumstances. ... Others have suggested that Arkansas applied a species of strict liability to aerial application in Chapman Chemical Co. v. Taylor. ... Interpreting Arkansas law, the Eighth Circuit held in Walton v. Sherwin-Williams Co. that because there was substantial evidence that 2, 4-D applied in an oil base was not an inherently dangerous product, there was no error when the trial court refused to instruct the jury on strict liability. ... By comparison to those courts that have imposed a strict liability theory, Arkansas courts in particular have been careful to distinguish the factors that can invoke strict liability in aerial application cases, and to carefully sort out the issue of negligence, if any, of the applicator and his or her employer. ...

Here's the other:

Copyright (c) 1996 Southern Methodist University School of Law
Journal of Air Law and Commerce

August / September, 1996

62 J. Air L. & Com. 93

LENGTH: 34004 words



* Since this Article was written, certain key players in this controversy regarding bootleg aircraft parts, most notably Inspector General A. Mary Schiavo and the FAA's Anthony Broderick, have left the positions they held. The effect of these changes is uncertain, but the author of this Article is certain that the controversy which is the subject material of this Article will undoubtedly continue. - Ed.

NAME: Robert W. Luedeman **


** The author is a journeyman aircraft mechanic and quality assurance inspector of 15 year's experience who is also a graduate of Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa, a member of the Iowa Bar, and an LL.M. candidate (Agricultural Law) at the University of Arkansas - Fayetteville. He is currently furloughed from his last assignment as a second shift flight ramp quality assurance inspector for the McDonnell Douglas Corporation's Long Beach, California plant, and he is a past member of UAW Local 148. The opinions and conclusions in this work are his own. The descriptive material and technical digressions in the footnotes and text are included because it was suggested by Professor Robert Hunter in the early stages of this project that a general audience will better understand the issues when it has a good grasp of the technology under discussion.

... V. WHAT IS AN UNAPPROVED PART? ... The FAA defines an "unapproved part" as follows: ... Thus, if an operator using an approved distributor installed an unapproved part, only the distributor would be subject to enforcement. ... Regardless of the legal requirement for certification, the practical manager will grasp that all persons involved in parts supply need to be properly trained in recognizing the unapproved part. ... A rule that required mandatory reporting of a suspected unapproved part within forty-eight hours of becoming aware of its questionable status, as well as mandatory reporting to the production approval or certificate holder, could prove useful in generating the level of reporting that would allow the agency and component manufacturers to ascertain the scope and extent of the suspected unapproved parts problem and identify problem manufacturers and resellers in an expeditious fashion. ...

Friday, January 06, 2006

My old man

Robert T. Luedemann

at his desk at Curtiss Wright Corporation

about 1943. Thanks to MK for this picture.

Born New York, New York 23 July 1919

Raised Miami Florida

Died New Jersey, 20 May 2001

Beloved son of Captain Robert John Luedemann and Jessie Thom Luedemann


Some verse from the pen of A.E. Housman


Home is the sailor, home from sea:
Her far-borne canvas furled
The ship pours shining on the quay
The plunder of the world.

Home is the hunter from the hill:
Fast in the boundless snare
All flesh lies taken at his will
And every fowl of air.

'Tis evening on the moorland free,
The starlit wave is still:
Home is the sailor from the sea,
The hunter from the hill.


Stay, if you list, O passer by the way;
Yet night approaches; better not to stay.
I never sigh, nor flush, nor knit the brow,
Nor grieve to think how ill God made me, now.
Here, with one balm for many fevers found,
Whole of an ancient evil, I sleep sound.

The Big J.

What more needs to be said? I was lucky enough to tour her at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard before she was refitted with some of the modern bells and whistles, and after those same bells and whistles had been added. I was privileged to tour the Mighty Mo in the same time frame but I never have toured the Iowa or Wisconsin-although I do know a "man of war's man" who is proud of his service aboard the Iowa.

At present the future home of the second Iowa is in limbo as the good people of San Francisco try and decide whether she should be berthed there as a museum and memorial to the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who gave, as Lincoln called it, "the last full measure of devotion".

Some feel that such an overt weapon should never have a place in the City by the Bay under any circumstances, and others would attempt to apply their own political and social context as a precondition to her berthing there.

She is what she is. Weapon, shrine, memorial to the young men whose bravery and courage we lesser mortals can only marvel at, a warning against the love of war, a marvel of the best technology of her time? All these things and more.

She is also a standard bearer for the people of the State of Iowa-we are enormously proud of her and the men who served so valiantly in her. If we had an ocean you can be quite sure that San Franciscans would never have been placed in the awkward position of deciding if they want this grey lady.

China and the aircraft industry are in the news these days.

When I was at Douglas I knew a number of people who'd worked at the SAIC plant on the MD80s that were built there. In fact there was an article in Life Magazine called Yanks in China which had a lady I worked with right on the cover. A fair number of the fellows who were unmarried came back with Chinese spouses as well-and fine folks they were too.

According to Rich Farino, the quality of the aircraft that were built there was no different than those build at LGB, except that polishing operations were done by hand so as to spread the work to as many people as possible. At the time he was there in the eighties, the power grid in Shanghai was not so good, brownouts and all, and SAIC's ability to supply compressed air for pressurization tests on the ground was barely adequate.

No doubt much has changed in the past fifteen or so years. China presently manufactures some good middling aircraft derived from Soviet and other designs that are well suited to rough and ready conditions. I'm particularly impressed with the Harbin Y-12-a worthy successor to the DHC Twin Otter-and some of the hefty Russian inspired turboprops, mostly because I'm a sucker for anything with propellers on it. Some efforts have been not as positive. The Chinese attempt to reverse engineer the B707 was a convincing flop.

Later on, I worked with some Chinese quality assurance inspectors who were doing acceptance inspections on one of the MD11s they'd bought. They were all good solid working stiffs and they made an impression on me as "can-do" people who knew what they wanted to do, were willing to learn and exchange ideas and methods, and had an attitude toward work that was going to take China a long way in the world. That was in the early nineties, and time has not proved me wrong.

What remains to be seen is when-not if-China will develop the type of production engineering skills that will allow production and certification of larger, world standard aircraft in a cost competitive environment.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I saw this on the side of a Viet Nam era airplane that was parked in the airplane graveyard at Davis Monthan AFB back in 1980. I love combat art, and this was one of the best specimens I've seen. If you have any information about this aircraft or who flew it, I'd love to hear about it.

If you looked at the photo you most likely noted that I was wearing a sling, and thereby hangs a tale.

Back in May of 2005 I'd gone to a Jerry Hoffman auction and there were several hundred bicycles. Apparently swiping bikes is a pastime of Des Moines' demi monde, and periodically the evidence crib at the D.M.P.D. gets cleared out. If you live in Des Moines and are missing a bike, don't worry-it'll show up at the auction sooner or later. So there I was, and I saw something that piqued my interest. After a couple of false starts I was the new owner of a Cannondale touring bike for the grand sum of $12. Of course the next step was to put it in shape and start sweating all that winter fat off my middle.

Everything went according to plan until July 19 when I was on my way back from the midway point of a 30 mile run and got lost somewhere back of Saylorville Lake near the Cherry Glen boat landing.

As I was on a down hill slope leading into a parking lot I decided a wide sweeping turn was just the ticket to save momentum and then it happened. I ran over a six inch wide fissure in the pavement and down I went. All I can clearly remember was thinking "Damn! This is going to really hurt!" and a loud bang when my head hit the asphalt. I dragged myself under a tree and started trying to see what worked and what didn't. I could move the fingers on my right arm but that was about it. I patched myself up, walked a couple of miles until I found a park ranger and then called my ever patient spouse on the cell phone to come and get me-first time I was ever glad I had a cell phone.

After a bit of patching up and enough painkillers to stun a moderately sized draft horse I learned a couple of weeks later that I had a broken shoulderblade.

That's where the sling came from.

For those of you who are wondering what I look like these days, this was taken in the summer of 2005 by a friend.

I recently stumbled over the following website which should be of interest to all former Long Beach employees.

Although I've been using the screen name "Dougloid" on an aviation related chatboard since July 4, 2005 it was the first I'd heard of it and I've sent an email to Ruben Wong which is as yet unanswered. Nonetheless I figured that it was worth a hypertext link to see some photos of the old plant.

I also found the following link:

If you can keep from gagging over Boeing's pathetic, self serving and ultimately insulting attempts to co-opt the Douglas legacy, there are some good pictures and a movie that shows the inside of building 12. I mean, it wasn't enough that they bought the company and gutted Long Beach, now they act as if they're some kind of historical preservation society or keepers of the flame. They're not-they're pimps putting the old girl down at the corner to turn a few more tricks.

When you think of it, what did Boeing accomplish? They got the T-45 and the C-17 and the military stuff and the missile and space stuff, but they let the commercial lines bleed to death, and the C17's days are numbered. In doing all this, they cleared the way for Airbus to achieve parity in the order race by eliminating the only other heavy aircraft manufacturing plant in the western world devoted to commercial programs. They also eliminated a major contributor to America's balance of payments that put a lot of people-myself included- in jobs where we could make a decent living. The MD11 and the MD80 series aircraft were rugged, no-nonsense, overengineered aircraft that all of us were proud to be associated with. The MD11 had a brilliant future as a cargo hauler-in fact, the demand has never been higher for MD11 freighters. But they let it bleed to death.

What they now have is real estate that housed a major industrial concern for more than half a century. G-d only knows what's in the ground water underneath the place but it can't be good.

And that could be the sweetest payback.

There is another Dougloid who has posted some thing but he seems to be mostly interested in low fat diets and losing weight. I suspect he may have been a devotee of the lunchtrucks that lined up on Faculty Drive after dark. Thai beef en brochette at a dollar a hit, a/k/a monkey meat, was always good.

In fact the first time I ever heard the term "Dougloid" was back in 1989 when I was introduced to Ron Williams by David Montoya. Dave pointed to a fat black guy with the biggest and thickest glasses I'd ever seen. He said "Do you know Ron Williams?" Of course I said "No." Dave said. "Well, he knows you." Ron, as it turns out, was a compulsive collector of information on people in the plant and over the years had developed a dossier on a lot of people. He could point to a guy who'd crossed a picket line during the seventies and say "That fucker's a scab. Don't have anything to do with him."

Later that day Dave said that I had the makings of a good Dougloid. I hope I lived up to his expectations.

So....what does it mean? A person who worked at Long Beach? A badge of honor? Does it make me a marked man?