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1998-06-09 16:06:25


Airlines Will Be Safe, Say FAA Chief and Boeing Representative



Federal Aviation Administration (noncompliant) chief Jane Garvey says that she will be on a commercial airliner on Devcember 31, 1999. Tim Fehr of Boeing (noncompliant) says the same thing.

Great. There they will be, each sitting in an empty plane on a runway of a noncompliant airport, waiting for the pilots to show up and fly their noncompliant planes into the sky.

The reporter, bless him, says that he attended a conference where the speakers said that planes ill not fall from the sky. I wish I had been there to hear it. Yes, I do. I really do.

The FAA promises to have its code repaired by September 30, 1998. IBM says the IBM machines the FAA uses cannot be fixed. Well, what does IBM know? I mean, is IBM 2000-compliant? Of course not. But the FAA soon will be. So says Jane Garvey.

One airline pilot spoke of the industry's "fallback plans." I wish he had chosen a better phrase.

This Reuters story appeared on Infoseek (June 9).

* * * * * * * * *

MONTREAL, June 9 (Reuters) - Senior aviation officials meeting here came as close as they could in saying that the world's airlines will operate safely, if not normally in every respect, on January 1, 2000, despite the millennium bug threat.

Planes will not fall from the sky as under some doomsday scenarios, they said, and to make the point, some of them added they would be on commercial flights even as revellers in New York's Times Square are belting out the last few bars of Auld Lang Syne for the new millennium.

One is Tim Fehr, vice-president of airplane systems at Boeing Corp, whose staff has conducted an exhaustive search for any flight safety issues related to the bug in Boeing aircraft systems, and found none.

Another is Jane Garvey, head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Garvey said that come January 1, 2000, she and her ``bug fix'' coordinator at FAA would be flying across the United States.

``We're going to board a plane shortly after midnight and fly west through all four continental time zones to demonstrate our confidence that the nation's airspace system is perfectly safe,'' she said at the 54th annual general meeting of International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Montreal.

It is going to be a very uneventful and ultimately normal trip, she added. ``It's going to be business as usual on January 1, 2000.'' . . . .

The airline industry, heavily dependent on computerised systems, even in the cockpit, is beginning to be openly confident that it won't be bitten badly by the bug.

One reason is that the world's airlines are spending $1.6 billion on fixing their Year 2000, or Y2K, problem.

This does not include billions more being spent by air traffic control systems, airports, computer reservations systems and other third party suppliers and vendors to make sure that global air travel is not seriously impaired by the Y2K problem. . . .

``Right now, all the lines of (FAA computer) code that need to be fixed are being fixed,'' said Garvey. ``Of the 430 mission critical (FAA) systems 141 are already Y2K compliant.'' The rest will be done by September 30. . . .

By mid-1999, IATA says it will make available its audit information on airport and air traffic services readiness so that planners at the carriers can determine whether there are airports they would like to avoid on January 1, 2000.

Captain Maurice de Vaz, head of flight operations at Singapore Airlines and a leading IATA spokesman on Y2K issues, said fallback plans were also being developed as a safeguard against unexpected systems failures. If recourse to those backups prove necessary, there could be flight delays.


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