(Click link below to watch this NewsNation segment)
I will speak a bit to this now since I will be on a national news broadcast shortly. I wrote in my article “Hacking Aviation” in 2015, and several other articles since then, about some of the things we were seeing and experiencing as we moved forward with technology. There are incredible positives gains yet concerning negative challenges we are dealing with.
Today, an outage of the FAA system for NOTAMS was down. Systemwide, we were issued ground stops for just over 2 hours which affected 4000+ flights and cancelled over 700. What does this all mean?
As we move forward in electronically increasing effectiveness and efficiency, we must continue developing better software and hardware to make this happen. The systems we have in much of the cases are 30-40 years old and the industry has tried to “patch work” some of this. Why? If it was a start from the ground up strategy, it could mean that flights are grounded for months and we definitely want to avoid that! It is a battle to bring old technology up to date while maintaining the balance that is currently in place.
On our aircraft, we have system redundancy for safety. These critical systems have back ups and in some cases we even have a third. As pilots, we are redundant to each other. This allows in part for the excellent safety record the flying public enjoys today.
When it comes to the software systems that support running of the airlines and the entire flying system as a whole, we also have backups. Yet what we are seeing are failures, glitches, etc. Just like with your older laptop or desktop computer, every now and again, it needs a restart or a refresh.
What is the big deal about these? They are “Notices to Airmen” (now called Notices to Air Mission). They are critical notices to our safety of flight. We read them before and during our flights so that we know exactly, with as much current data as we can, things we need to know about our operation. They give us information pertaining to our departure, enroute, alternate, and destination airports as well as enroute navigation like: runway closures, changes to our ground based navigation systems, approach issues, hazards, airport lighting outages, airport construction, etc. As you can see, it could possibly be detrimental if we are unaware of some of these factors.
Plans vs reality:
The aviation industry had many plans pre-pandemic. Then, our world was rocked and our industry was devastated. Major airlines were within 4-5 months of complete shutdowns due to the 90% reduction of passengers and income. Plans for progress were put on hold in lieu of pure business survival and many aviation workers lost their jobs around the globe. We are still in the recovery phase. Yes, we love having you back traveling with us! We are back to pre-pandemic levels and are expanding to meet your desires. This full rebound and growth is taking time and we ask for your patience in remembering all we have recently been through together.
In the meantime, stay apprised of any changes by making sure your airline has your cell number in order to notify you as things are happening. You can also stay informed with the airline apps as well as weather apps.
Wishing you Blue Skies and Smooth Flights!