Monday, May 02, 2011

Catastrophic Failure

New Zealand’s controllers get their turn at saying “I Told You So.”

National air centre in Christchurch reviewed

”Contingency plans for air traffic control around the country are being reviewed amid concern that recent seismic activity makes the national air traffic control centre at Christchurch too vulnerable to disruption.”

”The Airways Corporation centralised its radar, computers and operations staff in Christchurch in 2000, in a move some controllers warned at the time would leave air control operations wide open to catastrophic scenarios, such as earthquakes. They argued it would be better to spread the risk between Auckland and Christchurch, but the corporation pressed ahead with its plan to centralise all its services.”

Of course it did. Evidently, the urge to consolidate is irresistible for air traffic control managers -- public or private. The management always says they have a viable alternative -- but it never works.

After nearly a month of beating up sleepy controllers you would have thought at least one reporter (out of the dozens that were working on the story) might have had the agility to pivot with the story. The Washington Post got halfway there.

At Atlanta airport, storms create harrowing tests for pilots and controllers

”On Wednesday, as their tower swayed, they also knew that 2,700 flights were scheduled to arrive or depart from the nation’s busiest airport during a massive blast of bad weather that spawned several killer tornadoes.”

It’s not like there isn’t a lot of history about it. After any natural disaster, the one thing you want to make sure is working is an air transportation system. That’s how the aid will get in.


FEMA - 15087 - Photograph by Michael Rieger taken on 09-01-2005 in Louisiana

The FAA might want to ask itself what it would have done if the tornado that hit Sunny Side had been just a little further north. No, I mean what they really would have done if they’d lost an ARTCC for good.

View Larger Map

A short clip of Sunny Side, GA after the tornadoes. As you can see from the map above, it’s just a couple of miles away from Atlanta Center in Hampton.

Don Brown
May 2, 2011

1 comment:

Doug said...

Back during the Cold War there was no way this country would have stood for consolidations of infrastructure as critical as the National Airspace System (NAS), yet we have politicians today willing to bet the farm on natural disasters that everyone knows are inevitable. Even today, a shutdown of just one Super TRACON such as what happened at SoCal a few years ago because of a brush fire results in millions of dollars in economic damage to the airlines and the economy. Such economic damage from even one shutdown can easily nullify a decade's worth of cost benefits associated with the consolidation.