The Wall Street Journal has an article about cascading failures in airline computer systems:
Whether it’s caused by a power failure or a possum, an airline computer outage unleashes more problems more quickly than similar breakdowns in almost any other consumer business.
A recent spate of technology glitches at U.S. airlines has inconvenienced thousands of travelers, spawned long airport lines, delayed or canceled flights and led to a wave of negative publicity.
United Continental Holdings Inc.’s United Airlines unit suffered a meltdown June 17 that forced it to cancel 36 flights and delay another 100. US Airways Group Inc. was hit by separate glitches on June 10, 18 and 19.
Alaska Air Group Inc. had its turn back in March, canceling 150 flights affecting more than 12,000 customers. Earlier in March, Southwest Airlines Co. experienced two separate technical foul-ups within two days, although the one related to the rollout of its revamped frequent-flier program didn’t delay flights.
With packed planes leaving little room for error, airlines are trying myriad upgrades and other solutions to keep their computers running everything from flight dispatching to crew scheduling, passenger check-ins, airport-departure boards, ticket sales and frequent-flier programs.
Cascading failures caused by unforeseen, unrelated, or untested circumstances. Now you know why some of us use milk of Magnesia as our coffee cream.