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Thread: The fragile cobweb of BA's computer network is nothing to be concerned about.

  1. #21
    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ATLcrew View Post
    That's not what I asked.
    You asked:

    Is it at all possible that more regulation is not the answer?
    I answered: more regulation is the only answer we have left.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ATLcrew View Post
    With the possible exception of healthcare (which is in its own endless clusterbleep), I don't know of an industry more regulated than commercial aviation. Nevertheless, these sorts of things continue to happen. Is it at all possible that more regulation is not the answer?
    Off the top of my head, I'd say financial services and the civil nuclear industry may be subject to more regulatory oversight.

    But it's a good and productive question. Do you know the concept of 'regulatory capture' ?

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    Senior Member TeeVee's Avatar
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    so the number of pax who would be receiving the euro damages award ranging from 200-600 uk pounds is what? 75,000? one would think that it would be the shareholders looking to take of some nutsacks after that payout is made

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    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TeeVee View Post
    so the number of pax who would be receiving the euro damages award ranging from 200-600 uk pounds is what? 75,000? one would think that it would be the shareholders looking to take of some nutsacks after that payout is made
    But instead, they would look whom to blame to eject them with a golden parachute.

    --- Judge what is said by the merits of what is said, not by the credentials of who said it. ---
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  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    You've got to be kidding me. What could be more impractical than running your airline operations on a wing-and-a-prayer network and incurring 3+ days of chaos at any given moment?
    Regulating computers systems is far more impractical.

    Yes, but an inevitable expense that will only become more expensive the longer you push it down the road.
    Not true, once the whole system needs to be replaced the cost will be pretty fixed.

    Cheaper in the short term or cheaper overall? Certainly you can keep sticking cheap patches on the thing, like an aging bicycle innertube. But what about the cost of ongoing disruptions and damage to your brand? Isn't it better to spend more on a new, more robust, less-puncture-prone innertube? Isn't it cheaper to spend your time generating revenue rather than patching and apologizing?
    You may be right. You may be wrong. Someone will need to run the actual numbers. There is significant risk associated with any new system and in converting from old to new ones.

    Agreed! The issue isn't about making something fail-proof, it is about making it fail-passive (or fail-operational). That's all I'm getting at. If the booking system goes down for 30 mins, that's manageable. But to do this, you have to plan it out architecturally and have control and supervision of every mission-critical aspect. You have to have contingencies in place and a means to avoid failure cascades. Instead of a house of cards you need to have a house where any card is able to fall without causing the entire thing to come crashing down.

    But you can't have that when you cobble together networks from a jumble of third-party legacy components and outsourced IT. Until you get rid of that and build something modern and manageable, all you can do is patch and pray...
    We agree on most of this, but the last statement is not correct. You can mix many legacy systems together successfully (banks do it all the time) but you have to do it properly. One of the things that needs to be considered in a fail tolerant system is you need enough system capacity at every level to be able to process the backlog in a reasonable time when the system comes back up. Many banks have made this mistake, where a single relatively short fault results in days of backlog until the weekend where the systems can catch up.

    Unless you've had your head in the sand all these years, you are aware of the many accidents caused by schedule pressures, manifested in get-there-itis and fatigue-inducing duty rosters. The industry is indeed resilient to these pressures but with notable exceptions which are quite notable for their mass fatalities and impact craters. Yes, the source of the stress IS the system because the system creates and tolerates such pressures, either deliberately through profit seeking or unintentionally through neglect.
    You note your own logic flaw here. The schedule problem doesn't cause a crash. Get-there-itis and fatigue inducing duty rosters are the cause, and solving computer systems problems doesn't eliminate that risk at all, it just reduces some fraction of their occurrence. Probably a very small fraction. Again, the causes aren't the stressors, the system responding to them are.

    There is only one word to categorize what has happen to BA these past days: neglect.
    Agree here too.

    Again, I want to live in this world of yours. I'm sure all the stranded passengers from the past three days would as well.
    People are cheap. People will take risks to save money all the time. If my cheap car keeps breaking and leaving me stranded, I can choose to buy a new one, or live with the uncertainty of the old one.

  6. #26
    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schwartz View Post
    The schedule problem doesn't cause a crash. Get-there-itis and fatigue inducing duty rosters are the cause...
    Schwartz, you seem to have a good handle on how systems work, except for this one. Get-there-itis and fatigue-inducing duty rosters are the EFFECT, not the cause. The cause is pressure, either stated or implied, by those seeking to squeeze more profit out of pilots through minimizing contingencies and maximizing labor. The system you refer to—the cause—is everything that creates that pressure. You spoke of the backlog problem in network systems. Well, there is also a backlog problem in terms of people and airplanes when an entire megalopoly airline is grounded for 3+ days. The need to ellminate that backlog will now be the root cause of such pressure. The most valuable commodities a pilot can have are sound judgment and the ability to concentrate, and chaotic distractions and company pressures (stated or implied) erode these things. That's when accidents happen.

    People are cheap. People will take risks to save money all the time.
    Very, very true. And this is why we must have laws and regulations. For example, we now have regulations limiting contiguous duty time. If a flight is significantly delayed and the crew cannot complete the flight within the time regulation, the flight has to either make an unscheduled stopover or await a fresh crew before departing. Would airlines be adhering to this if not for regulations? Not on your life!

    And so we have one catastrophic network failure after another (how many in the past year?) disrupting tens of thousands of lives and opening the door for potential disaster and it only seems to be getting worse. And then we have sheeple picking themselves off the floor and carrying on with the blind assumption that nothing can be done about it. Well, something CAN be done about it but it will require the force of law to get it done. We suffer though so much corporate abuse in the 21st century simply because we lack social responsibility, initiative and political will.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    You asked:



    I answered: more regulation is the only answer we have left.
    I hope not. Applying more regulation in this case would be akin to trying to bond two slabs of concrete with a gallon of Elmer's glue, not succeeding, then trying the same thing with two gallons of Elmers. The result will be the same because Elmer's doesn't work on concrete, regardless of quantity.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by HalcyonDays View Post
    Do you know the concept of 'regulatory capture' ?
    Affirmative.

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    Senior Member 3WE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    ...you seem to have a good handle on how systems work, except for this one. Get-there-itis and fatigue-inducing duty rosters are the EFFECT, not the cause. The cause is pressure, either stated or implied...
    Logical, yes.

    But with many flaws.

    Schwartz himself listed situations that cause a lot more stress than mass grounding- and which exist every day. (including the much beloved get-there-it is.) EVERY DAY...an approaching squall line, a maintenance delay, an arrival slot generate tons of situations where there is pressure.

    Pilots are instructed to fly the same- regardless of pressure...and (despite your conviction otherwise) they do a damn good job of not being pressured.

    Cutting corners on maintenance happens at slow times too.

    Operating an aircraft causes risks...By your logic, we should simply ban all flights as the day to day act of operating the aircraft places plenty of stress on systems, pilots, and maintenance.

    You are fixated on pointy sharp needle falling towards you while discounting the 10 tons of 8" rip rap falling alongside.
    Les règles de l'aviation de base découragent de longues périodes de dur tirer vers le haut.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3WE View Post
    Schwartz himself listed situations that cause a lot more stress than mass grounding- and which exist every day. (including the much beloved get-there-it is.) EVERY DAY...an approaching squall line, a maintenance delay, an arrival slot generate tons of situations where there is pressure.
    Exactly. I remember flying every week to NYC prior to 9/11 and every single flight was delayed because they overbooked the airspace EVERY TIME. They grounded us until the airspace was open. Way more delays happen from non-system crashes all the time. The commercial airline system must be tolerant to any get-there-itis otherwise as 3WE said, we better shut it all down right now.

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  12. #32
    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schwartz View Post
    Not available without subscription...

    --- Judge what is said by the merits of what is said, not by the credentials of who said it. ---
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    Linked above.

    There was a time when British Airways, the carrier that left 75,000 passengers stranded last weekend after a computer meltdown, carried elite status. In sober blue and white livery, it was the airline of Britain’s lost empire, capable of delivering passengers in style to the bits of the planet that were coloured pink in the imperial maps. It was the airline you flew to Rome or Marrakesh if you wanted your upscale holiday to start at the boarding gate. BA was (and remains) the Royal Family’s go-to airline.

    Then came the so-called discount airlines, Ryanair and easyJet. Ryanair took off in 1985, making the short hop from Waterford, Ireland, to London. Today, it is Europe’s largest airline, measured by passenger numbers. EasyJet’s launch came a decade later and would become Europe’s second-biggest discount airline and fifth-biggest carrier over all. Its business model has been copied by a slew of other cheap airlines, the most successful being Norwegian Air Shuttle (in North America, Southwest Airlines and WestJet are low-cost leaders).

    BA’s response to the low-cost airline onslaught was predictable. BA unleashed the cost-cutters, driving the airline downmarket to the point where its bosses have been accused of trying to “Ryanair-ize” the airline.


    BA may find the Ryanair comparison harsh, but it seems mostly accurate. Bifurcation is defining the airline market. You’re either a low-cost operation or going low cost, hollowing out the middle. In the future, the market might consist of airlines such as easyJet, at one end, private jets at the other and not much in between. The retreat of the middle class as salaries stagnate and inequality rises will probably ensure the trend remains intact.

    The man behind the cost-squeezing at BA was Willie Walsh – “Slasher Walsh,” as he was known in his Aer Lingus days. He ran BA from 2005 to 2011 and is now chief executive of the parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), which owns BA, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling, a low-cost airline based in Spain that comes with sardine-can seating. It is no accident that BA’s boss, Alex Cruz, was recruited from Vueling.

    Mr. Cruz’s mission was to make BA ever more “efficient,” which was code for more cost cutting. He admitted as much last November at IAG’s annual investor day. “When we look at economy [class], we are looking at a commodity product, without a doubt,” he said.

    Out went free snacks and drinks on short-haul economy-class flights. In came more rows of seats, making flying miserable for anyone with long thighbones. In March, the news came out that BA was reducing the seat pitch – the distance between the seats – on its Airbus A320 and A321 jets from 30 inches to 29 inches, matching easyJet’s pitch. Ryanair’s pitch, at 30 inches, is more generous (Air France gives you a spacious 32 inches on short-haul flights). On the lowest-price fares, charges came in for checked luggage. Jobs were outsourced, including 700 IT positions that went to Tata Consultancy Services in India.

    BA’s cost cutting may have backfired, although the company denies the strategy had anything to do with the computer disaster that triggered three days of travel chaos last week. BA attributed the IT collapse to a power-backup system that malfunctioned, cutting off the electricity to the computers. When the power came back on in an “uncontrolled way,” the computers failed. A few IT experts didn’t entirely buy BA’s explanation.

    BA’s strong profit and rising share price suggest its efforts to compete with Ryanair and easyJet are working. On many European routes, the airlines’ ticket prices are comparable. The cost-cutting exercise at Alitalia, to cite but one traditional airline, utterly failed and the Italian carrier has gone bankrupt for the second time in a decade. Surviving the low-cost onslaught apparently means cloning the low-cost model.

    The low-cost trend now threatens to reshape the lucrative transatlantic market, turning it into another cattle-car experience. Norwegian in 2013 launched a low-cost service between Europe and the United States, using wide-body jets. It’s now increasing the service with the latest narrow-body jets, with one-way fares as low as $65 (U.S.). WestJet and Iceland’s WOW are in the transatlantic game, too, and IAG, the BA owner, just launched Level, a budget airline that will fly from Spain to the United States. Not to be outdone, Air France-KLM is starting a low-cost airline called Boost.

    The bifurcation of the market will not end. The financial pressures on middle-class and working-class families – stagnant or falling wages – on both sides of the Atlantic will no doubt accelerate the trend, as will stubbornly high youth unemployment. U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to cut taxes on the rich and reduce subsidies for the needy can only widen the wealth divide.

    The era when customers could afford to pay for seats on full-service airlines with decent meals and legroom is becoming a quaint memory. If you want a modicum of comfort, you’ll have to pay gruesome amounts of money for business- or first-class seats, or be rich enough to use a private jet. BA’s reputation as an elite airline will soon die, if it hasn’t already.

  14. #34
    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schwartz View Post
    Jobs were outsourced, including 700 IT positions that went to Tata Consultancy Services in India.
    Aha.

    BA’s reputation as an elite airline will soon die, if it hasn’t already.
    The brand equity built over decades is spent in a weekend. Well done lads.

    You know, I don't really have much of a problem flying snack free with a 29" seat pitch for a fair price. But when you start introducing chaos into the experience, the value proposition sort of vanishes.

  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Aha.



    The brand equity built over decades is spent in a weekend. Well done lads.

    You know, I don't really have much of a problem flying snack free with a 29" seat pitch for a fair price. But when you start introducing chaos into the experience, the value proposition sort of vanishes.
    BA's idea of Premium Economy compared to other airlines who have that class leaves a great deal to be desired. OK, you get more legroom and ........ That's it ! Economy seats, maybe with an unsold seat between you and economy class service. That was my last experience of them. I'd like to think it has changed but I doubt it.

    I'm flying Club Class with Air Malta in November. Wider seats and an unsold middle seat which is adjusted to be much narrower than the useable seats and 34 inches of legroom. At 6 feet tall and 24stone that suits me just fine.
    Last edited by brianw999; 06-05-2017 at 01:49 PM.
    If it 'ain't broken........ Don't try to mend it !


  16. #36
    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianw999 View Post
    BA's idea of Premium Economy compared to other airlines who have that class leaves a great deal to be desired. OK, you get more legroom and ........ That's it ! Economy seats, maybe with an unsold seat between you and economy class service. That was my last experience of them. I'd like to think it has changed but I doubt it.

    I'm flying Club Class with Air Malta in November. Wider seats and an unsold middle seat which is adjusted to be much narrower than the useable seats and 34 inches of legroom. At 6 feet tall and 24stone that suits me just fine.
    The last time I flew premium economy with BA, it was a 2-4-2 configuration on the 777. Wider seats, well worth the extra money on a long-haul flight and well less than business class. Hopefully that doesn't change.

    I recently flew premium economy on Air Berlin and it was just economy seating with extra legroom. Still, AB seat pitch being 29", it was worth it.

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    The last time I flew premium economy with BA, it was a 2-4-2 configuration on the 777. Wider seats, well worth the extra money on a long-haul flight and well less than business class. Hopefully that doesn't change.

    I recently flew premium economy on Air Berlin and it was just economy seating with extra legroom. Still, AB seat pitch being 29", it was worth it.
    Good to hear. It seems that they've changed their tune then.
    If it 'ain't broken........ Don't try to mend it !


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