No, Hal Steinbrenner, as a licensed pilot, didn’t volunteer to commandeer the Yankees’ charter flights himself after the team’s recent plane problems. But Steinbrenner did get assurances from Delta, the club’s airline, that the issues would be ironed out in the future, and the Yankees’ managing general partner is satisfied with that.
“Well, obviously it’s not ideal, and I was not happy about it,” Steinbrenner said Wednesday during a break at the MLB owners meetings in Manhattan. “ Having said that, I’m a pilot, so I know how complex these machines are.
“But there’s been serious conversations with Delta. They’re not happy about it either and they’re going to continue to work on crew management and what happens if a plane does break down. They were very responsive. For something to happen like that three times in a row, I don’t know how many more years you’d have to wait for an occurrence like that. I don’t foresee dealing with that particular scenario again.”
The Yankees nightmarish itinerary began when the team was forced to spend the night at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, with some players sleeping on the plane and others in the terminal because of a bad-luck combination of engine trouble, weather problems and crew schedules.
That was followed by more mechanical issues in Dallas — the charter was forced to return to the airport and wait for a part, delaying the team’s takeoff until the early morning. A week later, the Yankees got stuck in Baltimore because of radar problems in Detroit, causing substantial delays.
“Look, these are commercial airlines,” Steinbrenner said. “We all fly commercial. Even my plane has problems from time to time, and I fly dinky little propeller planes. You start to get into these airliners, they’re complex — from the avionics, to the life support systems, to the engines, to the hydraulics, they’re just complex machines.”
Steinbrenner was asked if he could solve the Yankees’ flying issues by simply buying the team its own plane — the NFL’s Patriots purchased two 767s for their own travel needs — but he indicated it wasn’t feasible from a maintenance perspective.
“Then what happens if you’ve got an avionics problem?” Steinbrenner said. “Or you have a pressurization of the cabin problem? What do you do then on the tarmac? If it was our plane, I don’t what I would do. You’re not going to tape it up with Scotch tape, obviously.”