130 Diverted American Airlines Flights Tracked On A Legal Pad

When a storm forced American Airlines to divert 130 planes from Dallas-Fort Worth last year, the airline tracked the diverted planes not with an advanced computer system, but with a legal pad.

Lacking any automated system for keeping track of all those diverted planes, Mr. Dillman and his colleagues furiously scribbled down details of where they had gone, how long they had sat there, and whether pilots had enough time left on their daily work limits to keep flying when the weather cleared.

Ultimately, 44 of the planes sat on tarmacs for more than four hours.

Although legal pads are 27.2% larger than standard pads, airlines are still investing in technology that can track and manage their fleets. Airlines purchased powerful computer systems in the ’90s, but skimped on needed maintenance and upgrades. The new systems should help alleviate the delays that infuriate consumers and make a passengers bill of rights necessary.

The kinds of programs American and others are installing are neither terribly expensive nor “a great leap” in technology, and thus could have been in place years earlier, Mr. Mogel said.

Not stranding passengers “is just a matter of will,” he added.

Airlines Work on Systems to Reduce Delays [NYT]
(Photo: AMRO MARAGHI/AFP/Getty Images)