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Thread: Safety in the Air, Chaos on the ground

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    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    Default Safety in the Air, Chaos on the ground

    Quote Originally Posted by NYTimes
    The harsh winter storm had passed. In its aftermath, parts of the airport were overloaded, jammed with planes that had been kept on the ground during the storm. But screens showed bright yellow airplane icons — incoming flights — approaching, with many more on the way.

    One by one they landed. Unused runways became parking lots, with planes waiting for gates.
    And still they kept coming. Hours and hours passed.
    It was the failure to stop them, experts said, that turned a chaotic but manageable winter-storm episode into an airport delay for the ages.
    Yet in the complicated contraption that is Kennedy International Airport — which is managed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the airlines, and the companies subcontracted by the airlines — it was not clear even on Monday, three days after the epic runway traffic jam, who was supposed to have stopped them.
    It was the international terminals that were hit hardest, forcing the Port Authority to finally shut down two of them to incoming flights until their occupants could undo the messy knot outside and within.
    Continue reading the main story


    A rolling cascade of emergencies brought about by human error and winter weather led to the nightmarish long weekend, as thousands of travelers from around the world found themselves trapped. And that was before frigid water from a burst pipe began raining from a ceiling in Terminal 4, pooling amid the luggage of the stranded.
    The turmoil was a reminder of the domino effect of air travel, and that the ripples from complications at an airport that is a vital cog in the global travel network can quickly spread across the world.
    The Port Authority said an investigation was underway to determine what went wrong. The truth could be weeks away, or more, as the various entities inside Kennedy — the landlord of the airport itself, the companies that move bags and direct air traffic and sell seats on airplanes — are scrutinized. For now, no one has taken full responsibility for the debacle, with the Port Authority pointing at airlines and terminal operators who have said little so far.
    "A rolling cascade of emergencies". This is what the future will look like. Chaos capitalism. So many self-interested entities are involved in airport operations now, so many outsourced contractors and an inept and strangled bureaucracy are running it. Every one of them just hoping to perpetuate the chaos a bit longer, as long as there is money to be made. It's all just a house of cards at this point and the architect seems to be opportunity itself. The American airport of today is an existential nightmare; there seems to be no ultimate design or wisdom guiding it or protecting us from easily forseeable events leading to a rapid spiral into chaos.

    We've seen a lot of evidence of this lately. The cascades keep coming. Cascade-prone infrastructure. Absence of coordinated response. Nonexistent contingency plans. There is a pattern of 'wake up call' followed by 'snooze button' whereby nothing is being done to remedy it. Everyone is making money. Join the party. Don't rock the boat. Regulations will strangle the economy. Free enterprise regulates itself. Etc, etc...

    Remember the movie Airport? That was the past. A remake today would look like Die Hard.

    Do blizzards happen on the Northeast seaboard? Yes they do. Should we have a plan in place for prolonged shutdowns of major travel hubs. Yes. Should that plan be well-practiced and coordinated with all parties involved. Yes. Should we have a big picture mentality to prevent an event that we know is inevitable from resulting in total chaos? Yes, we probably should. Now whose job is that? Does anyone even have the big picture? Or is it sort of a big scribble in progress?

    At some point this rolling cascade culture is going to roll into an aviation disaster. Chaos breeds error. And I'm very tired of waiting for things to happen before anything can be done to prevent them. I'm very tired of "won't happen again". I think we all need to stop what we're doing and Google 'social contract'.

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    Senior Member 3WE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    ...blah, blah, blah...
    "I have just completed my cool MBA and have learned of the process of continual improvement and no muda...we will plan better, increase efficiency and reduce waste...and of course keep our mission of outstanding customer service and safe, fast, convenient, efficient air-travel at the forefront."

    And you know that they are young, well-dressed, attractive and trained in scientific analysis.
    Les règles de l'aviation de base découragent de longues périodes de dur tirer vers le haut.

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    Senior Member TeeVee's Avatar
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    perfect timing. sunday night, aa's "director of customer experience" at MIA was over my house for a BBQ. as usual, the conversation turned to airline ops and the generally shitty experience that is MIA.

    one of the things he bitched about is the absolute lack of accountability in the airport. he has about 17 years of experience working for aa, mostly in latin america. his position is that while there are pros and cons to every setup, the total privatization of latin american airports, precludes 1/2 the BS that goes on at US airports--where they are owned by govt entities yet 80% is farmed out to 300 different contractors.

    anyway, i sorta agree with evan

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    War... poverty... famine... epidemics of fatal diseases... child abuse... genocide... all terrible but none can hold a candle to the horror that is being stuck at an airport longer than you expected.

    Okay okay I get it... mistakes were made, dumb things were done, many people were inconvenienced... sometimes a lot. What happened should be examined and changes made to prevent it from happening again.

    But let's have some perspective... nobody died (as did some others in aviation in recent weeks) and far worse things happen to many people on a daily basis.
    Be alert! America needs more lerts.

    Eric Law

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    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elaw View Post
    But let's have some perspective... nobody died yet.
    Fixed.

    Your comment exemplifies the problem with reactionary rather than preventative action. When a plane gets struck by another plane in the confusion created by this lack of preventative action and a hard-to-slip-under-the-rug, Colganesque number of people die, then of course we will see some better-late-then-never steps being taken. It doesn't have to be this way however. We also don't have to live with the anguish of these "cascading emergency" airport delays. Steps could be taken now as well. If we raise our voices, that is...

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    Senior Member 3WE's Avatar
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    It might be a pipe dream to think that large multi state snowstorms shouldn’t disrupt things and that water pipes don’t break.

    I get more worked up when some scattered thunderstorms (that might only close the airport for 30 minutes) cascade into 24 hour delays as there is zero slack in planes, gates, crews, fuel trucks, coke and peanut caterers and lav blue water replenishment vehicles.
    Les règles de l'aviation de base découragent de longues périodes de dur tirer vers le haut.

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    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3WE View Post
    It might be a pipe dream to think that large multi state snowstorms shouldn’t disrupt things and that water pipes don’t break.

    I get more worked up when some scattered thunderstorms (that might only close the airport for 30 minutes) cascade into 24 hour delays as there is zero slack in planes, gates, crews, fuel trucks, coke and peanut caterers and lav blue water replenishment vehicles.
    Of course it's a pipe dream. Storms are going to wreak havoc on a fragile transportation infrastructure with inadequate contingencies. But the syndicates that manage these airports are smoking that crack. The pipe dream they are having is that they can—sort of—cross that bridge when they come to it and abuse people up to a rather high level and get away with it because there will never be any accountability (aside from some theatrical statements to that effect) due to the short memory span of a media-hypnotized population. People will get miffed, have a little tirade in the press and then it will be the next day and there will be something else to distract them and after a week it will be entirely forgotten. So why fix it. Why end the party known as contracting with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

    Problem is, that's no pipe dream. That's how it is. The pipe dream is that we can fix it before weeding out the corruption that we, as minions who vote for charisma over competence, created.

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    Senior Member TeeVee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Of course it's a pipe dream. Storms are going to wreak havoc on a fragile transportation infrastructure with inadequate contingencies. But the syndicates that manage these airports are smoking that crack. The pipe dream they are having is that they can—sort of—cross that bridge when they come to it and abuse people up to a rather high level and get away with it because there will never be any accountability (aside from some theatrical statements to that effect) due to the short memory span of a media-hynotized population. People will get miffed, have a little tirade in the press and then it will be the next day and there will be something else to distract them and after a week it will be entirely forgotten. So why fix it. Why end the party known as contracting with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

    Problem is, that's no pipe dream. That's how it is. The pipe dream is that we can fix it before weeding out the corruption that we, as minions who vote for charisma over competence, created.
    and yet, even those organizations with "bulletproof" plans sometimes have failures. case in point: AA has had for many years a hurricane contingency plan for MIA ops. last year, they activated the plan, which included keeping a group of key personnel at an airport hotel until the storm passed. the hotel was previously contracted with AA for just this. well, just about everything was perfect EXCEPT the hotel did not have food to handle that man people.

    so, my friend, thinking quickly, convinced the hotel to lend them bedding and they all hunkered down in one of the admiral's clubs--plenty of food, drink etc.

    what is it they say? the best laid plans of mice and men???

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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Your comment exemplifies the problem with reactionary rather than preventative action. When a plane gets struck by another plane in the confusion created by this lack of preventative action and a hard-to-slip-under-the-rug, Colganesque number of people die, then of course we will see some better-late-then-never steps being taken. It doesn't have to be this way however. We also don't have to live with the anguish of these "cascading emergency" airport delays. Steps could be taken now as well. If we raise our voices, that is...
    Well you can raise your voice all you want, and I wish you the best of luck conquering that windmill.
    Be alert! America needs more lerts.

    Eric Law

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    Senior Member 3WE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elaw View Post
    Well you can raise your voice all you want, and I wish you the best of luck conquering that windmill.
    Word choice here is WAAAY to beautiful to let pass...

    What's that all important counter argument?...yeah, we are all raising our VOICES, but when we click our mouses, its for the carrier giving us the $10 cheaper fare.
    Les règles de l'aviation de base découragent de longues périodes de dur tirer vers le haut.

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    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3WE View Post
    Word choice here is WAAAY to beautiful to let pass...

    What's that all important counter argument?...yeah, we are all raising our VOICES, but when we click our mouses, its for the carrier giving us the $10 cheaper fare.
    Actually, I mean "raising out voices" in both a literal and metaphorical sense. You can raise your voice with your wallet, and I do that regularly. I travel as economically as my dignity and conscience will allow, meaning I don't go with the rock-bottom fare most of the time. If a choice exists, you won't catch me on Spirit Airlines or Ryanair.

    But this was an airport issue and a government one. You usually don't get to choose these things very often, but when you, speak with your vote, bother to do it and do it wisely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Actually, I mean "raising out voices" in both a literal and metaphorical sense. You can raise your voice with your wallet, and I do that regularly. I travel as economically as my dignity and conscience will allow, meaning I don't go with the rock-bottom fare most of the time. If a choice exists, you won't catch me on Spirit Airlines or Ryanair.
    You still haven't told us what airlines you DO take, except for a brief mention of an Air Berlin flight into JFK, a mention I found somewhat less than credible, I might add.

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    Senior Member TeeVee's Avatar
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    i suspect evan flies 2-3 times a year on the cheapest fare he can find, excepting spirit, ryanair etc

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    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ATLcrew View Post
    ...a mention I found somewhat less than credible, I might add.
    go on...

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