Feeds

Snowed-in code blamed for Comair's Xmas flight collapse

Old box grounds travelers

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Aging server software has been blamed for Comair's holiday collapse that left thousands of travelers stranded.

Comair last week said that winter storms had affected its computer systems responsible for scheduling flight crews. At the time, however, the carrier - a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines - did not say exactly how inclement weather had brought down its boxes. It now turns out that a dinosaur of a system was only capable of handling 32,000 scheduling changes in a month (a result of the 16-bit conundrum). Snow storms caused an unusually high number of changes to be made and brought Comair's computers down.

A poster on Slashdot claims Comair was running the scheduling software on one of IBM's AIX servers.

"The box itself is still up and running just fine; this is purely an application error," the Slashdotter wrote. "This application was not written in-house at Comair, but by another large aerospace company -- SBS."

"The great majority of Comair's traffic flows through the midwest, and the central base of operations is in Cincinnati. The midwest was hit by a major snowstorm this week, causing many, many crew reassignments. It appears right now that the application in question has a hard limit of 32,000 changes per month (ouch). Consider that Comair runs 1,100 flights a day and there are usually 3 crew members on each aircraft. A big storm like this can cause problems for days after the snow stops falling. That's a whole lot of crew changes."

Comair is said to be in the process of installing a new system called Maestro Crew - also developed by SBS, a Boeing subsidiary. The more sophisticated software package was due to be installed in January.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has ordered an investigation into the problems that affected both Comair and US Airways over the holidays. Comair cancelled all of its flights on Christmas Day and struggled for days to get its flights back in the air.

“Comair looks forward to sharing with the Department of Transportation and its Inspector General what we have learned from this chain of events as we work together to help avoid situations like this in the future," said Comair President Randy Rademacher. "Comair will cooperate fully with the DOT in this matter."

The carrier finally restored normal operations on Wednesday. ®

Related stories

Official orders probe of airlines that stole Christmas
Vodafone to offer in-flight Wi-Fi
Singapore Airlines plans in-flight live TV via Wi-Fi

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Wanna keep your data for 1,000 YEARS? No? Hard luck, HDS wants you to anyway
Combine Blu-ray and M-DISC and you get this monster
US boffins demo 'twisted radio' mux
OAM takes wireless signals to 32 Gbps
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Apple flops out 2FA for iCloud in bid to stop future nude selfie leaks
Millions of 4chan users howl with laughter as Cupertino slams stable door
Students playing with impressive racks? Yes, it's cluster comp time
The most comprehensive coverage the world has ever seen. Ever
Run little spreadsheet, run! IBM's Watson is coming to gobble you up
Big Blue's big super's big appetite for big data in big clouds for big analytics
Seagate's triple-headed Cerberus could SAVE the DISK WORLD
... and possibly bring us even more HAMR time. Yay!
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.