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October 13, 2000
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Airlines Urged On Loose Screws

Don't look now, but that loud thump you just heard in your back yard might just be a 747 dropping in.  And from the looks of things, you probably won't have to wait long to hear the second shoe drop.  And maybe the third . . . It seems that these things are rather loosely held together.   All these years I thought they invented Starbucks to keep those mechanics in Seattle wired so they would focus on their jobs.  I guess there's such a thing as too much of a good thing.
Jeff Goldthorp's Slightly Bizarre Current Events Site
Thank goodness we have the government to find these things out for us.  Transportation department inspectors have learned that up to one-fourth of the screws holding that jumbo jet your cruising in together are probably NOT TIGHTENED.  It doesn't get more basic than that, folks.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Eliot Brenner advises us not to worry:  "We are not seeing a problem in service.  Airplane parts are holding together."  Well - at last, something to be thankful for.  Bet you didn't know this, but there's a law on the books - the 1990 Fastener Qualify Act - that "requires that screws, bolts and other fasteners used in airplanes meet strict specifications" (i.e., they have to be TIGHTENED).

So how will you know if your riding in a nut house (aside from the demeanor of your fellow passengers)?  We thought of some simple tests that are dead giveaways (literally):
The In-Flight Maintenance Kit - Check the seatback in front of you for a small, nondescript package.  It will  probably be hidden somewhere near the bottom to avoid having you irritate the crew with annoying questions (until they become the least of their problems, that is).  Before you push-back, look inside.  If there's a set of allen wrenches and nutdrivers, you're in for trouble.  Get out while the gettin's good.
The "Free" Movie - Nobody gets free movies except the humps in Business Class.  Not unless there's a reason for it.  Like a long, agonizing delay.  Or a particularly turbulent flight.  Or the distrubing racket caused by thousands of sheet metal screws colliding with the walls of the cargo hold.  I'm sure they'll have nice loud movie for you in this case.  So if you get offered a freebie, ask for a parachute.