Let's look at some possible scenarios

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I would suggest that we have some discussion about possible scenarios if certain problems arise that are short of total catastrophe, and how people and businesses would actually respond to the changed environment.

For example, here is a scenario related to air transportation. Let us assume that the FAA is not completely prepared for full air traffic control in January 2000, but can handle 30% of the normal number of flights through work-arounds and manual procedures, and that this situation exists for several months before the processes can add more flights.

Obviously, my assumptions imply other assumptions, such as that the power grid would still be largely functioning, oil refineries would still be able to produce some jet fuel and get it transported to airports, and that the banking and finance system will still be able to process checks and credit card purchases, all of which can of course be questioned and examined in separate scenarios. Here are my projections: 1. Airlines would increase fares substantially, and would eliminate all the low-priced fare options, to the point that they may still be able to at least breakeven. 2. Every airplane would be full, since if airplanes fly safely for more than a week after January 1, 2000, there would still be substantial demand for business flying. 3. Package delivery services like Fedex would be greatly hurt by the reduced flight slots available. 4. The government might start allocating priority passes for flying (rationing). 5. Hotel chains, car rental companies and airline food service companies would have a great reduction in business, as would many other businesses collateral to air transportation (fuel, airport stores and restaurants). (Note all the businesses around your local airport and think about how many of them count on air transport business). All of these situations would particularly hurt low-level employees. 6. If U.S. air traffic is greatly reduced due to air traffic control problems, then it would probably be almost non-existent in many foreign countries. Major airlines would not risk sending their aircraft where there were safety concerns.

Do you feel that the above is a possible scenario or even likely, or am I missing some critical considerations? Are there serious flaws in basic assumptions? If anybody out there is an airline pilot or an air traffic controller, I would especially lik

-- Dan Hunt (dhunt@hostscorp.com), May 06, 1998


Is it fair to assume anything happening in a vacuum? Probably not, but let's go with the flow here. Beyond the effects that Dan noted, thirty percent air traffic rates would mean: 1) Amtrak would be jammed from coast to coast, if the computerized rail switches are working. Even Greyhound might become chic again. 2) "Just in time" air deliveries of vital industrial components - computer chips, for example - would vanish and along with it the industries they support, such as auto assembly. 3) Companies that depend on traveling salespeople or extensive executive travel, or consultants with a national clientele, would be devastated.

-- J.D. Clark (yankeejdc@aol.com), May 07, 1998.

<< 3) Companies that depend on traveling salespeople or extensive executive travel, or consultants with a national clientele, would be devastated. >>

Would they? Well, okay, some might, but I believe not all would be, for two reasons:

1. The customers of theses companies are just as dependent on receiving the goods and services as the salespeople/executives/consultants are on selling them, at least in many cases. Therefore, neither side is going to let the lack of "face time" be a complete impediment to conducting business. Both sides will be incented to find a solution and work in new ways.

2. So more business gets conducted via telephone calls, fax machines and snail mail. So what. Yes, both sides would be hurt by delays, and maybe neither feels quite as "good" about they way business was conducted, but life and commerce would continue. A lot of significant deals were done before plane travel became commonplace, and it can be done that way again, at least for a while. The same scenario holds for most executive travel and for most consulting arraingements. Maybe it takes longer to get someplace and the trips are fewer in number, but most business could still be done.

-- Paul Neuhardt (neuhardt@compuserve.com), May 07, 1998.

Having flown for one of the majors for 33+ years and 4 years in the Navy prior is my back ground. I have been retired for 5 years so I have no special knowledge. But I think some of the industry could operate given your set of conditions. After all we operated in the pre radar era and did it just fine. The problems I see are these. 1. The new aircraft are much more computer oriented and use much more software/GPS/and electronic means to navigate with. If any or all those systems are down, I don't think many of these new "glass cockpit" aircraft would do all that well. The older stuff like the 727's, 737-100/200's, 747-100's and 200's might do fairly well with a manual system in that they probably could navigate better with more crude navigation facilities. (My experience has been almost totally Boeing for the last 20+ years of the career.) Even before crude navigational devices were used we used to fly using landmarks and that could be done MAYBE. Flying at 160Kts VS 460Kts is a lot different and things go by much quicker. Also that type of flying requires good weather all the way. Possibly the other thing that wasn't addressed with the problems with reservations(huge computer operations) crew scheduling(very complicated), aircraft scheduling(to take them to schedule maint. at the proper time), irregular operations and getting things sorted out again and one other area is load planning and flight planning which almost all are done via computers. Does anyone thing that even a partial Y2K problem isn't going to have any serious impact on the demand for goods and services including airline seats? I think it will have the kind of impact that may require the airlines to park hundreds of aircraft and furlough thousands of people.

-- Gene Peterson (carvgene@gis.net), May 07, 1998.

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