"For reasons you will understand as you read this I can not divulge
my identity. I am an aircraft mechanic for a major airline. I work
at one of our maintenance bases located at a large airport. I have
discovered some information that I think you will find important.
First I should tell you something about the "pecking order"
among mechanics. It is important to my story and to the cause to which
you have dedicated yourself.
Mechanics want to work on three things. The avionics, the engines,
or the flight controls. The mechanics that work on these systems are
considered at the top of the "pecking order". Next come
the mechanics that work on the hydraulics and air conditioning systems.
Then come the ones who work on the galley and other non-essential
systems. But at the very bottom of the list are the mechanics that
work on the waste disposal systems. No mechanic wants to work on the
pumps, tanks, and pipes that are used to store the waste from the
But at every airport where I have worked there are always 2 or 3 mechanics
that volunteer to work on the lavatory systems. The other mechanics
are happy to let them do it. Because of this you will have only 2
or 3 mechanics that work on these systems at any one airport. No one
pays much attention to these guys and no mechanic socializes with
another mechanic who only works on the waste systems. In fact I had
never thought much about this situation until last month.
Like most airlines we have reciprocal agreements with the other airlines
that fly into this airport. If they have a problem with a plane one
of our mechanics will take care of it. Likewise if one of our planes
has a problem at an airport where the other airline has a maintenance
base, they will fix our plane.
One day last month I was called out from our base to work on a plane
for another airline. When I got the call the dispatcher did not know
what the problem was. When I got to the plane I found out that the
problem was in waste disposal system. There was nothing for me to
do but to crawl in and fix the problem. When I got into the bay I
realized that something was not right. There were more tanks, pumps,
and pipes then should have been there. At first I assumed that the
system had been changed. It had been 10 years since I had worked on
one. As I tried to find the problem I quickly realized the extra piping
and tanks were not connected to the waste disposal system. I had just
discovered this when another mechanic from my company showed up. It
was one of the mechanics who usually works on these systems. I happily
turned the job over to him. As I was leaving I asked him about the
extra equipment. He told me to "worry about my end of the plane
and let him worry about his!"
The next day I was on the company computer to look up a wiring schematic.
While I was there I decided to look up the extra equipment I had found.
To my amazement the manuals did not show any of the extra equipment
I had seen with my own eyes the day before. I even tied in to the
manufacturer files and still found nothing. Now I was really determined
to find out what that equipment did.
The next week we had three of our planes in our main hanger for periodic
inspection. There are mechanics crawling all over a plane during these
inspections. I had just finished my shift and I decided to have a
look at the waste system on one of our planes. With all the mechanics
around I figured that no one would notice an extra one on the plane.
Sure enough, the plane I choose had the extra equipment!
I began to trace the system of pipes, pumps, and tanks. I found what
appeared to be the control unit for the system. It was a standard
looking avionics control box but it had no markings of any kind. I
could trace the control wires from the box to the pumps and valves
but there were no control circuits coming into the unit. The only
wires coming into the unit was a power connection to the aircraft's
main power bus.
The system had 1 large and 2 smaller tanks. It was hard to tell in
the cramped compartment but it looked like the large tank could hold
50 gallons. The tanks were connected to a fill and drain valve that
passed through the fuselage just behind the drain valve for the waste
system. When I had a chance to look for this connection under the
plane I found it cunningly hidden behind a panel under the panel used
to access the waste drain.
I began to trace the piping from the pumps. These pipes lead to a
network of small pipes that ended in the trailing edges of the wings
and horizontal stabilizers. If you look closely at the wings of a
large airplane you will see a set of wires, about the size of your
finger, extending from the trailing edge of the wing surfaces. These
are the static discharge wicks. They are used to dissipate the static
electric charge that builds up on a plane in flight. I discovered
that the pipes from this mystery system lead to every 1 out of 3 of
these static discharge wicks. These wicks had been "hollowed
out" to allow whatever flows through these pipes to be discharged
through these fake wicks.
It was while I was on the wing that one of the managers spotted me.
He ordered me out of the hanger telling me that my shift was over
and I had not been authorized any overtime.
The next couple of days were very busy and I had no time to continue
my investigation. Late one afternoon, two days after my discovery,
I was called to replace an engine temperature sensor on a plane due
to take off in two hours. I finished the job and turned in the paperwork.
About 30 minutes later I was paged to see the General Manager. When
I went in his office I found that our union rep and two others who
I did not know were waiting on me. He told me that a serious problem
had been discovered. He said that I was being written up and suspended
for turning in false paperwork. He handed me a disciplinary form stating
that I had turned in false paperwork on the engine temperature sensor
I had installed a few hours before. I was floored and began to protest.
I told them that this was ridiculous and that I had done this work.
The union rep spoke up then and recommended that we take a look at
the plane and see if we could straighten it all out. It was at this
time that I asked who the other two men were. The GM told me that
they were airline safety inspectors but would not give me their names.
We proceeded to the plane, which should have been in the air but was
parked on our maintenance ramp. We opened the engine cowling and the
union rep pulled the sensor. He checked the serial number and told
everyone that it was the old instrument. We then went to the parts
bay and went back into the racks. The union rep checked my report
and pulled from the rack a sealed box. He opened the box and pulled
out the engine temperature sensor with the serial number of the one
I had installed. I was told that I was suspended for a week without
pay and to leave immediately.
I sat at home the first day of my suspension wondering what the hell
had happened to me. That evening I received a phone call. The voice
told me "Now you know what happens to mechanics who poke around
in things they shouldn't. The next time you start working on systems
that are no concern of yours you will lose your job. As it is I'm
feeling generous, I believe that you'll be able to go back to work
soon" CLICK. Again I had to pick myself from off the floor. I
made the connection that what had happened was directly connected
to my tracing the mysterious piping. The next morning the General
Manager called me. He said that due to my past excellent employment
record that the suspension had been reduced to one day and that I
should report back to work immediately. The only thing I could think
of was what are they trying to hide and who are THEY!
That day at work went by as if nothing had happened. None of the other
mechanics mentioned the suspension and my union rep told me not to
talk about it. That night I logged onto the Internet to try to find
some answers. I don't remember now how I got there but I came across
your site. That's when it all came together. But the next morning
at work I found a note inside my locked locker. It said, "Curiosity
killed the cat. Don't be looking at Internet sites that are no concern
Well that's it. THEY are watching me.
Well you already know what they are doing. I don't know what they
are spraying but I can tell you how they are doing it. I figure they
are using the "honey trucks". These are the trucks that
empty the waste from the lavatory waste tanks. The airports usually
contract out this job and nobody goes near these trucks. Who wants
to stand next a truck full of sh--. While these guys are emptying
the waste tanks they are filling the tanks of the spray system. They
know the planes flight path so they probably program the control unit
to start spraying some amount of time after the plane reaches a certain
altitude. The spray nozzles in the fake static wicks are so small
that no one in the plane would see a thing.
God help us all,
A concerned citizen."