When the computer system meltdown of Delta Air Lines suddenly and unexpectedly occurred in the wee hours of the morning on Monday, August 8, 2016, Steve Kaye — the partner and chief business Zork of TravelZork who is also known as SteveHacksTravel — kept you updated with this article as the airline struggled for several days to recover back to normal operations; and the snafu ultimately “negatively impacted August revenue by approximately $100 million”, according to this official news release from the airline, which is based in Atlanta.
Additionally, more bad news for the airline — which seemed to have been on an unstoppable roll until last month — continued in that aforementioned news release from Friday, September 2, 2016 which reported that its “consolidated passenger unit revenue for the month of August declined 9.5% year over year, as the company continues to see pressure from close-in domestic yield weakness, the ongoing supply-demand imbalance in the Transatlantic, and headwinds from its Yen hedge positions.”
Delta Air Lines Faces Less Turbulence Ahead — Literally
With those and other issues which the airline must tackle, how could it be facing less turbulence ahead?
“Predicting the where, when and intensity of turbulence is notoriously difficult to do. But Delta has developed a new, industry-leading app that’s helping pilots better spot and avoid it”, according to this article written by Shannon Ledwich of Delta News Hub. “Launched in April, Delta’s Flight Weather Viewer app provides pilots with real-time graphics of turbulence observations and forecasts on the flight deck.”
In other words, Flight Weather Viewer will help the pilots of Delta Air Lines avoid turbulence to ensure a smoother ride for its passengers.
Basic Information Pertaining to Turbulence
Certain weather phenomena portend the obvious signs of turbulence — such as a cumulonimbus cloud, which typically produces thunderstorms. Winds can be so strong in a cumulonimbus cloud that it can carry falling water droplets back up into itself, freezing the raindrops into pellets — and layers of ice are added to these pellets in a continuous cycle of updrafts until the ice is too heavy to be swept up by the winds. These ice balls fall as hail; and the stronger the winds, the hailstones will be heavier — and larger — becoming more capable of causing damage on the ground.
Those strong winds can also cause severe turbulence for airplanes; and — although rare — turbulence can cause serious injuries to passengers who are not seated and wearing their seat belts…
…but even when turbulence is expected, pinpointing its exact characteristics and location is still extremely difficult. “Delta expects to see a significant decrease in the number of turbulence-related injuries and turbulence-induced maintenance“, according to the aforementioned article. “The app is also expected to reduce the airline’s carbon footprint, as it arms the pilots with better information to make less altitude and speed changes, thereby reducing fuel burn.”
Not all turbulence is expected — or even visible. Clear air turbulence is amongst the most difficult to detect because there are no visual cues such as clouds; and it can happen at any time like the recent computer system meltdown of Delta Air Lines: suddenly and unexpectedly…
…and turbulence costs airlines approximately $100 million every year — coincidentally the same amount that Delta Air Lines claimed to have lost from its computer system meltdown.
This infographic from Delta Air Lines displays basic visual information pertaining to turbulence — as well as what causes this nefarious weather phenomenon.
I have met some members of the team of 25 meteorologists at a partially open room of the Operations Control Center at the world headquarters of Delta Air Lines; and they are passionate about weather. With computer monitors focused on charts and graphs; and maps strewn all over the tables, there is a sense of organized chaos — they love it; and it shows. As an amateur meteorologist who is self-taught, I thoroughly enjoyed discussing weather with them as much as they enjoyed discussing it with me — to the point of where I was significantly delayed when it was time for me to go…
…but the interaction was well worth it.
It is nice to know that that team — along with the pilots — will use new technology to actively do everything possible to ensure that the occurrence of turbulence is mitigated as much as possible for airplanes operated by Delta Air Lines carrying passengers around the world…
…which — in a literal way — will help to ensure that operations are closer to smooth sailing under sunny skies in the future.