Over the holidays there seemed to be an abundance of weather-related air travel delays which weren’t too surprising. What did surprise me was the complete shutdown of Comair‘s flights (over 1000 per day), in particular the blame of a computer system fault as the reason for the shutdown.
I’ve been curious whether more details would be publicized and it seems like some information is starting to come out. The Cincinnati Post reported yesterday (my emphasis):
The computer software that crashed and grounded Comair’s entire fleet on Christmas Day was an antiquated system due to be replaced in the coming months.
The SBS Crew Check system tracks all the details of where each crew member is scheduled and keeps a log of every scheduling change.
Tom Carter, a computer consultant with Clover Link Systems of Los Angeles, said the application has a hard limit of 32,000 changes in a single month.
Hmmm, a hard-coded limit of 32,000; seems awfully like a popular number in computer science (215 = 32,768). Sounds like the Y2K problem all over again.
The Slashdot thread on the subject has some interesting comments about the type of system and software used for crew tracking.