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1998-05-04 19:29:14


Y2K Czar Isn't Worried About Air Transportation


John Koskinen says there is no big problem with the fact that the Federal Aviation Administration's computers that control flight schedules are not compliant and cannot be made compliant.

"The contingincy plan for the FAA is not that people won't fly. They'll space the panes out farther. It'll take longer."

Personally, I'm not worried about spaced-out planes. I'm woried about a spaced-out y2k czar. I think to myself: "Is this man nuts, or does he think we are?" I vote for the latter.

Who is going to climb on board a modern jetliner if the computers that direct air traffic are known to be defective? Who is going to trust his life to newly trained air traffic controllers who have just learned (they hope) how to direct flight patterns with a paper and ink system? What insurance company will insure flights on this basis? And what pilot will fly the plane?

But let's take Czar Koskinen at his word. Everyone will fly. No problem! The FAA will just space out the planes. At 600 miles per hour, I'll guarantee you that they'll space out the planes!

How long in between flights in 2000? Will the FAA reduce air traffic by 50%? 70%? What? And what will that do to airline revenues? And to the profits of the banks that lent the leasing companies the money to buy these planes?

Planes will not be falling out of thy sky, but airline share prices sure will be.

Czar John then said, "The backup system is 'Year 2000 compliant.'" Do you believe him? I know I do. Why shouldn't it be 2000-compliant? The back-up system will be a bunch of guys with binoculars standing around inside the control tower and saying, "Gee, do you see anything? I don't see anything."

These quotations appeared on the front page of the WALL STREET JOURNAL (May 4). Koskinen was quoted straight, without criticism, by Daniel Wessel in "The Outlook" column.

Dan, my friend, the outlook stinks.

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