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Snow @ LHR this afternoon (8/1/03)

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Snow @ LHR this afternoon (8/1/03)

Old 8th Jan 2003, 18:46
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Unhappy Snow @ LHR this afternoon

From the BBC:
There were 120 flights cancelled from Heathrow Airport to Europe due to the extreme conditions.
Why when it snows (forecasted) at the UK's busiest airport is there chaos. Isn't there a bit of planning for this sort of thing or did the BAA plough all their money into duty-free shops rather than snowploughs.
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Old 8th Jan 2003, 18:51
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its a joke.. a little bit of snow and the country is paralysed. Air/rail/road..everything gets shut down.. scary.
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Old 8th Jan 2003, 19:24
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Good training and awareness of operations is just this kind of situations would keep the system running, but no, training money has to be saved and no quality training is provided.

Airline pilots should also demand proper training for such conditions, not just a brief mention and a possible hand-out. Look at operations in the Nordic countries. The marginal investment would pay back handsomely.
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Old 8th Jan 2003, 19:27
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At BA the tug drivers also do the de-icing, so you can have one or the other! What must pax from northern Europe think when they see LHR paralysed by a dusting of snow?
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Old 8th Jan 2003, 19:38
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<<At BA the tug drivers also do the de-icing>>
I had heard same, and fully expected looking at BAA Arrivals to find BA "standing out" amongst delays and cancellations (like the strong winds a few months back). However, seems fairly evenly distributed?

Maybe, when people operating in/out of LHR finally get to their PCs we shall hear specifically where the system(s) fell apart...

Safely ensconsed in ground school and avoiding this bad Wx!
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Old 8th Jan 2003, 20:13
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It's absolutely ridiculous the way the country grinds to a halt after a couple of snowflakes or the odd leaf falls off a tree. You'd think it had never happened before! It pretty much snows a bit in winter, rains a bit (ok, a lot) for most of the year, gets warmer in summer, and trees shed leaves every autumn. There are no surprises - this has happened regularly. Absolutely amazing then that trains grind to a halt because there are leaves on the line, roads melt because it's a nice day for once, and complete nationwide chaos after a brief snowfall.
I believe it comes from the management book of excuses to conceal the fact that companies are understaffed and cut corners.
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Old 8th Jan 2003, 20:16
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On LHR-EDI route alone there are 4 canx listed for tonight - BA1446, BA1452, BA1454, BA1458. The BA1462 is expected to arrive two hours late at 2237 and is still listed as being operated by a 757. BD has cancelled 2 LHR-EDI flights. If the other routes are as badly hit (and they certainly appear to be) then I can only assume the hotels at LHR will be extremely busy tonight.
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Old 8th Jan 2003, 20:33
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I think the intensity and duration of this ''snow shower'' caught them out some what this morning. Three durations of single runway ops due to braking actions slipping from ''good to medium'' and then down to medium in a short space of time. Only a matter of time before the accumilations went above the ATIS 25% and turned the braking action to poor. ATC low vis ops were in force as was runway 23 as a parking area. So congestion, de-icing delays, hold over times, all these factors leading to delays and cancellations. My heartfelt thanks and congratulations go to the ATCO 121.90 (lady) this am about 1130 to 1200 who under duress from us 'busdrivers' managed to keep her cool and sort out a very trying time for us all. Thankfully HAL/BAA did manage to keep operational delays to a minimum, the main reason for the delays and canx flights it would seem would be lack of de-icing and preparation by some ground handlers for this contingency.
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Old 8th Jan 2003, 21:08
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This was a massive attack on the UK by Al Qaeda using deadly snow tipped missiles. Like the US carbon fibre bombs which are used to knock out a countries power grid, small numbers of snow flakes can be used to shut down all kinds of transport operations in the UK.

Seriously, and sadly, Iíll tell you now what the answer will be. The beancounters will tell us that it simply not cost effective to resource for 1.37 snowdays in each financial cycle, the risk management scenario making it more efficient to take a customer service blowback and compensation hit than to employ expensive human resources to operate deicing equipment.

In the same vein, because they think theyíve found a cheap way of running airlines, we no longer resource for wind, fog, mist, sun, rain, hot weather, cold weather, weather of any sort, operations off schedule, operations on schedule, aeroplanes that require fuel, aeroplanes that donít require fuel, aeroplanes that need to be parked, parking stands, car parks, bus stands, buses in general, general handling facilities, facilities for disable passengers, facilities for able bodied passengers, able bodied pilots, able bodied cabin crew, or paper plates.

Iím sorry gentle passenger, Iíve tried so hard but these people are not of this Earth. They are too busy wondering why real life doesnít fit the computer model. Please may I ask you to have mercy on the crews and ground staff who do their very best to cope with the burden of a crassly inept Ďleadership teamí. sob sob


Iíll take on the opposition anyday. Itís my management I canít beat!
(edited because I'm not allowed to say that)
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Old 9th Jan 2003, 01:11
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I too am distressed that our country seems to cope so poorly with the vagaries of our weather. However as you point out it is hard to justify the level of investment required to keep our southern airports running in the event of severe snow fall, since it is an extremely rare event. There is a limit to how much any airline or indeed airport can spend to cope with all eventualities. For example technical problems resulting in an AOG are much more common than snow, however airlines do not always keep a spare airplane handy, or indeed sometimes even the spare parts to resolve such a situation immediately. Guess that we have to accept that no one has a bottomless pit of money and that there will be some occasions, snowfall included where passengers and airlines staff just have to accept that things cannot run smoothly 100% of the time.
As for leafs on the line well that is a completely different matter since it happens every autumn and for a prolonged period of time!
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Old 9th Jan 2003, 02:55
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Correct me if I am wrong, but was it not LHR/BAA that purchased an extremely expensive snow plough machine some years back when they got their fingers burnt ?

Admitedly, this is only a 'light' covering i.e. snow ploughs not required. But with all the Met aids these days - come on.

Caught out Tues with no High Speed turn off early morning, again Wed and again .........

A lack of resources me thinks. I'm sure the rent collector is happy when he /she does the rounds in T1/2/3/4.
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Old 9th Jan 2003, 04:39
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Had a call from my son 1100 today (0000ZT 08JAN) having just arrived at LHR - some 11 hours late due to weather. He said that they were 15 minutes from touchdown when snow caused closure of LHR. Went to the hold for "a couple of hours" but then were fuel diverted to MAN.
Then the best part - they sat on the a/c for FIVE hours, because they were told, BA didn't have the staff to handle the pax. He said that the cabin crew (who were excellent) even volunteered to do the ground handling to no avail. Finally offloaded when it became clear that any LHR slot available would be a long time coming, plus he said there was some problem getting refuelled.

They then were bussed MANLHR (another four hours) finally arriving there at midnight. Last I heard they were being accommodated o/n at hotels.

Seems then that QF32 LHRSYD 08JAN is still physically at MAN.
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Old 9th Jan 2003, 06:47
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The UKís biggest story yesterday that was missed by the media was that Luton stayed open despite the snow.
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Old 9th Jan 2003, 06:52
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just for the record, has anyone been to Paris CDG when it's been snowing ???? Even worse than the UK which takes some doing..
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Old 9th Jan 2003, 08:39
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Well said, White Knight. And also for the record - was anyone trying to operate in or out of Boston on Christmas Day. I was, and it wasn't pretty.
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Old 9th Jan 2003, 10:38
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Hi all

Yes I was too quite amazed by how a relatively small amount of snow can cause so much chaos.

My dad was operating BA874/875 yesterday to and from SVO. He tells me the queue to be de-iced was ridiculous, indeed at 4pm they were still waiting (ETD 1300) but luckily the cabin crew ran out of hours, so every cloud has a silver lining <g>.

SVO was still functioning rather optimally despite temps of -25, with ice crystals and snow falling. Hmmmm
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Old 9th Jan 2003, 10:59
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Well Done Frankfurt

I operated out of FRA with all a/c requiring deicing and we had an on time pushback with about 30 minute delayed take off due to using the taxi thru deicing pads. All in all .. very impressive. Thanks FRA.
Old 9th Jan 2003, 12:29
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I bet the BAA tills selling over-priced elderly bagettes and mineral water were functioning optimally for the hapless passengers though, while the four de-icing rigs struggled to cope. Pathetic.
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Old 9th Jan 2003, 12:57
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Once more, don't think that the Brits are the only ones caught out at the first sign of frost or snow. I have seen JFK grind to a halt and also be closed because of heavy rain-when all the access roads flood.

The prize still goes to the MT section way back in RAF days: When we called for the de-icing truck it turned out to be the only vehicle on the base without anti-freeze in the radiator. It was stuck in the yard with a frozen block!
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Old 9th Jan 2003, 13:09
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Partly it's the great British tradition in which we are all absolutely certain that nothing ever goes wrong abroad - it's only us who have problems - and everything here is always a disaster whilst still being convinced that however we do it is right and however they do it is wrong!
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