It is too easy to knock an aerospace industry which has had virtually no Y2K problems on the grounds that the problem did not really exist.

Proof of the Y2K "bug's" existence, and of the effects which could have occurred widely throughout the industry, can be seen in the effect it had on a veteran US military spy satellite system and a French military communications satellite. The US system's intelligence was unreadable for 3h and degraded for three days. That was despite the fact that $3.6 billion was poured into the Pentagon's 18-month intensive Y2K compliance programme. A small stretch of the imagination about what might have happened without this effort, given the power of the US war machine, could give rise to some fearsome nightmares.

Meanwhile, the world has sailed quietly through the night in which air traffic control might have crashed and aeroplanes were forecast to fall out of the sky. The International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Association has said that the only notable characteristic of the 1999/2000 rollover was that there was dramatically less traffic than usual for the season.

The International Air Transport Association and International Civil Aviation Organisation deserve congratulation for orchestrating a superbly co-ordinated worldwide effort to ensure that airlines, airports and service suppliers were aware of what they needed to do, and aware that the Y2K programmes of the key airlines and hubs globally would be checked out and reported by IATA to its member airlines.

The spin-off for the industry is a major IT equipment upgrade, better system integration, and improved front-line depth of knowledge about system resources. Now the task is to use these smarter tools to provide a safer, more efficient service.

Source: Flight International