Y2K Flying High

No problems on planes or at airports as Year 2000 arrives

(Everything2000) When the clocks changed from 1999 to the year 2000 you sure couldn't tell if you were up in the sky. Around the world airplanes flew without a flaw. No Y2K problems up in the air anywhere.

It turns out that fears of flying on New Year's Eve were groundless. Almost every major airline cancelled some or all of its flights due to lack of interest on New Year's Eve. Most people were afraid to fly, or just wanted to stay home this New Year. Those who decided to fly anyway ended up in some cases with great deals and all ended up with safe flights. Travelers returning home from vacations over the weekend also saw no major problems as the first few days of the New Year.

The United States was one of the last countries to ring in the New Year, so the time being watched closely was not just midnight...but also 7 p.m. EST, which is midnight Greenwich Mean Time. In aviation circles, that is also known as ``Zulu'' time, the standard used to track planes as they cross time zones, receive weather information from forecasters and are scheduled for fresh crews and supplies.

When the East Coast hit midnight five hours later, 548 planes were up in the air and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported no problems at all the flight landed without incident.

It looks like the $700 Million U.S. and Canadian airlines spent to fix Y2K paid off. Worldwide airlines spent $2.3 Billion on Y2K computer fixes. The FAA spent $368 million fixing ground-computer systems to make sure they too would be safe. The money was spent on fixing computers that handle things like runway lights and terminal computer systems.

The only problem the FAA could find anywhere was a small incident with printers in transoceanic air traffic control centers. The printers didn't work properly in New York, Oakland, Calif., and Anchorage, Alaska. The information was then relayed by phone instead of computer printer.

Monte Belger, the FAA's senior air traffic control official, said the printer problems occurred in systems used to relay communications from airplanes to the FAA. He said that on a normal day, the FAA receives about 25 similar reports. As of 9 p.m. Friday, it had 12.

Because of all the hype surrounding Y2K and airports and airplanes when the runway lights went out at an airport in Lake Charles, La., questions started right away. It was assumed to be a Y2K problem and investigators went into action. It turns out that a taxi knocked down a nearby power pole causing the outage. It was no Y2K bug after all.

Source: Associated Press

DATE: 1/3/00

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