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Database Glitch Grounds American/US Airways

timothy posted about 10 years ago | from the abort-retry-fail-land dept.

Data Storage 274

An anonymous reader writes "According to numerous news sources, all American Airlines and US Airways flights were grounded for two or three hours this morning. Both problems were caused by a computer glitch in the systems hosted by EDS. Quote: The operating system that drives the airline's flight plans went down."

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274 comments

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1st comment whoo hoo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858299)

1st comment whoo hoo

poop (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858301)

kill nigz

Windows (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858302)

You probably guessed it already - according to this article [computerworld.com] EDS' systems run on MS Windows.

Re:Windows (0)

kd5ujz (640580) | about 10 years ago | (#9858314)

Windows was a given, now for bonus points, tell us which version.

Re:Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858326)

my bet is on XPsp1

Re:Windows (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858387)

Windows was a given, now for bonus points, tell us which version.

Microsoft Bob. Now, where do I go to collect my bonus air miles?

EDS works with a variety of systems (4, Insightful)

Rex Code (712912) | about 10 years ago | (#9858338)

EDS is by no means a Windows shop. They work extensively with "big iron" mainframes. In fact, they recently got the contract to handle the database of terrorist information that'll be used at airports. Likely this will be hosted on a 390 or something... Windows can't handle that kind of I/O.

Re:EDS works with a variety of systems (1)

jhines (82154) | about 10 years ago | (#9858483)

American Airlines has been around for long time, I'd guess there is a lot of legacy code running on mainframes.

Stuff like scheduling and cargo loading was mentioned.

Re:EDS works with a variety of systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858609)

I spent a few months at AA just before Y2K as a consultant. There's tons of legacy code still running on mainframes from the '70s. Pretty unbelievable when you think of all the changes in the airline industry since then.

--
perl -e '$??s:;s:s;;$?::s;;=]=>%-{<-|}<&|`{;; y; -/:-@[-`{-};`-{/" -;;s;;$_;see'

Re:Windows (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858420)

The following entities were NOT mentioned in the article you're linking to:

(1) American Airlines,
(2) US Airways,
(3) EDS.

So, what the hell are you talking about?
Why did you link to this article?
(I know, I know, because nobody will read it anyway)

Re:Windows (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858472)

The following entities were NOT mentioned in the article you're linking to:

(1) American Airlines,
(2) US Airways,
(3) EDS.

So, what the hell are you talking about?
Why did you link to this article?
(I know, I know, because nobody will read it anyway)

You are such a nitpicker.

Re:Windows (4, Informative)

ChatHuant (801522) | about 10 years ago | (#9858424)

Sounds like a troll. The article quoted by the parent is about a small regional airline (Atlantic Coast Airlines) that's doing its IT work internally. The article doesn't mention EDS at all. Moreover, browsing EDS's site, you can see that the solution [eds.com] they implemented for Continental Airlines is UNIX-based.

Re:Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858500)

I agree -- trolling. How is it that the original anonymous author gets 4 points for trolling, yet ChatHaunt is left with a mere 3?
Would be funny if American contracted to EDS to use Windows, but that doesn't appear to be the case.

Re:Windows (2, Funny)

macdaddy357 (582412) | about 10 years ago | (#9858455)

Not only that! It's Windows 98.

Re:Windows (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858521)


The system in question is most likely "AirFlite",
a Unix based system hosted by a joint
venture between Sabre and EDS.

Re:Windows (1)

88NoSoup4U88 (721233) | about 10 years ago | (#9858575)

So how much Saudi Arabians have been flewn back when all the others airplanes were stranded ? :P

On a more serious note ; a few weeks ago (two i think) : We also had a software problem in the Netherlands (Schiphol Airport) : Causing the monitors which display the departures/arrivals, to go blank : Only to get working 2 hours later.
This also caused great delays, as people had to ask to the airport personnel where to go.

Re:Windows (2)

NineNine (235196) | about 10 years ago | (#9858582)

Kid, you don't know what in the hell you're talking about. EDS is a mssive, global company that does hundreds of millions in sales a year. They handle systems for thousands of large companies. To say that EDS uses Windows is fucking moronic. A company as large as EDS, and doing as many diverse things as they do probably has every OS ever invented running somewhere in the organization. Sheesh. Slashdot needs some age requirements for posting.

Campaign of fear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858589)

What a surprise.

Ridge's reporting [gdatp.com] about specific threats and the threat levels are increased. Just in time for Bush's comeback after DNC.

The bastard even gloated that this specific information (which will not be shown to us, of course) was obtained because of GWB's "solid leadership".

Bush's campaign is back on track and fuelled by FUD.

Re:Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858595)

It's not the OS (Bad) but EDS's habit of billing multiples of what they pay and their moronic managment style. Fuck EDS(Every day is shit)

I grounded my plane (-1, Offtopic)

cecil36 (104730) | about 10 years ago | (#9858303)

to take a chance at getting a First Post!

And like the September 11 hijackers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858396)

you crashed and burned. Congratulations on being such a pathetic failure. If I were you, I would kill myself. Then again, you'd probably fail that, too.

Re:I grounded my plane (-1, Troll)

CmdrGoatse (800104) | about 10 years ago | (#9858421)

YOU FAIL IT

,---YOUR DADDY
0
/\__o <--- YOU
> > \

Not airlines only problem (-1, Offtopic)

Sam3.14 (792129) | about 10 years ago | (#9858304)

They are almost bankrupt anyway; this might be the last straw for some customers.

How long before someone blames this on outsourcing (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858305)

How long before we have people googling up EDS and outsourcing and blaming this on outsourcing?

WHAT operating system? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858311)

BeOS?

Great News! (2)

MikeDawg (721537) | about 10 years ago | (#9858317)

Well isn't that some great news, that makes me feel 20x better about taking my gf to the airport this morning. Fortunately she wasn't flying U.S. Airways or American Airlines.

She is absolutely frightened of flying, and somewhat of a computer nerd, I can't wait to talk to her, and tell her the scary news.

I will console her. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858345)

Sit on my lap, and we'll talk about the first thing that pops up. Hehe.

Re:Great News! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858356)

I don't get it, why is this scary? It's the equivilent of a gas station being all lined up because the pumps are down. You wait till it's fixed, and you move on.

I think you're overreacting.

Re:Great News! (4, Informative)

Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) | about 10 years ago | (#9858397)

Typical Airline applications are Reservations, Check-In, Weight-and-Balance, Flight Planning (which route to take and how much fuel to carry) and Ticketing. Once you have left the terminal and are heading for the runway, software crashes cease to be relevant.

Once you head for the runway, you care about Air Traffic Control's software. The only exception I can think of is for flights to the US where the authorities want passenger lists.

I work for an airline and we host for other airlines. I feel sorry for whoever carries the can for this mess. As to the OS, those who said it will be MVS are almost certainly correct. AA and US Airways are/were IBM customers.

Re:Great News! (1)

eyegone (644831) | about 10 years ago | (#9858535)

As to the OS, those who said it will be MVS are almost certainly correct.

Actually, it's probably TPF.

Re:Great News! (2, Interesting)

Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) | about 10 years ago | (#9858586)

Ho hum.

After I submitted the grandfather post, I saw something I'd missed first time around:

The operating system that drives the airline's flight plans went down. It might even be a Windows problem. A 'Flight Planning' application is a low volume application where you work out the optimum route for a plane based on the weather. That bit about the weather involves serious number crunching and the PC world has more of that kind of power to spare than the mainframe world. I helped write one of these apps 20-18 years ago and the central part has since been converted to run on PCs.

Sorry about that :-)

Re:Great News! (4, Insightful)

Chess_the_cat (653159) | about 10 years ago | (#9858412)

What scary news? The airplanes are piloted by people, not computers. And certainly not the computers that control flight plans. Do you think that airplanes will start falling from the skies because a computer went down somewhere? I guess you packed your basement with cans of beans for Y2K too.

Re:Great News! (2)

Trurl's Machine (651488) | about 10 years ago | (#9858438)

She is absolutely frightened of flying, and somewhat of a computer nerd, I can't wait to talk to her, and tell her the scary news.

One of my worst flights ever was on a business trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. I was accompanied by a genuine RAF pilot, who flies the tanker Boeings for NATO warplanes. There was a rainstorm and strong wind over the whole UK and my friend was busy explaining me that Boeings are very vulnerable to strong winds and wind is the scariest threat for Boeing pilots and so on. It wasn't a nice thing to say on board, especially when the pilot announced a delay in approaching due to strong wind.

On return flight I discovered that this time we'll be flying on an Airbus. I told the (supposedly) good news to my friend, hoping that this time he will spare me his horror stories. Unfortunately, his reply was:
- Do you know why the pilots call it "Scarebus"?

US Air down for half of Sunday! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858318)

In other news, US Air announces highest level of on-time flight arrivals in their corporate history.

Who rides airplanes? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858325)

It's all about Grethjound and the bus!

Stable Operating Systems (-1, Offtopic)

bigattichouse (527527) | about 10 years ago | (#9858328)

(tongue firmly in cheek) I have to say, this wouldn't happen if they ran the best OS in the world.. the commodore 64. Once say my brother yank out a C64 and throw it down the stairs in a rage and it *still* worked.

Re:Stable Operating Systems (1)

beebware (149208) | about 10 years ago | (#9858372)

Yep, they just don't make computers as they used to. I've seen computers ran over by cars still working (only needed a couple of replace plastic case supports replacing), laptops dropped down 12 stories ...

Operating System (singular) (5, Insightful)

Hypharse (633766) | about 10 years ago | (#9858329)

"The operating system that drives the airline's flight plans went down."

How in the world can they state that as singular. Surely they have a backup of some sort. Especially with all the supposed "increased security" around air flight, you are telling me that one system crash can knock out half of the major airlines? That's ridiculous. Have they not learned about redundancy?

Re:Operating System (singular) (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858347)

Yeah, Have they not learned about redundancy?

Re:Operating System (singular) (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858361)

Yeah, Have they not learned about redundancy?

Re:Operating System (singular) (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858373)

use the 'yes' command in linux to take care of that.

Re:Operating System (singular) (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858407)

Yeah, Have they not learned about redundancy ?

Re:Operating System (singular) (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858446)

Yeah, Have they not learned about redundancy ?

Re:Operating System (singular) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858439)

Yeah, Have they not learned about redundancy?

If I had mod points, I'd mod your comment redundant.

Re:Operating System (singular) (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858528)

I'm an MBA. Would you please explain the joke?

Re:Operating System (singular) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858417)

Yeah , Have they not learned about redundancy?

Re:Operating System (singular) (2, Insightful)

k4_pacific (736911) | about 10 years ago | (#9858351)

Well, one operating system can run on multiple machines. Google, f'rinstance, has thousands of machines running Linux, and that's one operating system. Probably there was some service running on all the systems that choked simultanously on some piece of bad data or they distributed a bad upgrade.

Either way, somebody fucked up somewhere.

Re:Operating System (singular) (5, Funny)

njcoder (657816) | about 10 years ago | (#9858379)

"Have they not learned about redundancy?"

Yep, their so good, even the failure was replicated!

Re:Operating System (singular) (2, Insightful)

waynelorentz (662271) | about 10 years ago | (#9858395)

... you are telling me that one system crash can knock out half of the major airlines?

That's not what it says at all. American and U.S. Airways certainly don't count as half the major airlines in the United States. There are hundreds of airlines in the U.S. of A., and maybe a dozen qualify as "major." And by some measures, U.S. Airways doesn't count as a "major." So, no, you're completely wrong. Don't read things into the article that aren't there (assuming you RTFAs.)

Re:Operating System (singular) (4, Informative)

Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) | about 10 years ago | (#9858448)

This is partially a question of cost, redundancy costs money and those airlines are rather short of the readies (although this crash will cost serious money).

For any *normal* 'extreme situation', a reboot should help.

Having just read that The operating system that drives the airline's flight plans went down, it might even be a Windows problem. A 'Flight Planning' application is a low volume application where you work out the optimum route for a plane based on the weather. That bit about the weather involves serious number crunching and the PC world has more of that kind of power to spare than the mainframe world. I helped write one of these apps 20-18 years ago and the central part has since been converted to run on PCs.

So they had a system crash ... (1)

mec (14700) | about 10 years ago | (#9858491)

... were any human beings killed or injured? ... were any human beings in danger of being killed or injured?

It's hard to tell from the sketchy news stories, but it looks like AA and UA *do* have a backup plan and *are* executing it. The backup plan is a ground stop for 2-3 hours while they sort things out.

If you want them to have a backup plan which involves providing full service with no interruptions, then you would have a ticket price to fund that.

Do you know the cost of redundency ? (4, Interesting)

aepervius (535155) | about 10 years ago | (#9858525)

Here around we studied it, for one major airline in EU. We wanted a "backup system" in case the main system went down. Total Cost, without maintenance, about *3 whole day* of traffic "benefits"... Yes, that much. Right now the project is still discussed but most of us thinks it is dead in the egg. Instead the "older" and "less powerfull" developpement system will be used in case of break down.

Redundancy is OK, as long as it is not bleeding you dry.

Re:Operating System (singular) (2, Insightful)

Osrin (599427) | about 10 years ago | (#9858566)

You are thinking like a computer techie... I suspect this guy does not even know what a Computer Operating System is, he is more likely refering directly to the underpinning infrastructure that runs his airline.

I wonder if they could get any more vague.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858330)

A glitch could mean absolutely anything. What reason would they have for not giving even the smallest of hints as to the nature of this glitch?
Yes I can think of a few. Just trying to get you thinking of them as well.

Re:I wonder if they could get any more vague.. (3, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 10 years ago | (#9858367)

What reason would they have for not giving even the smallest of hints as to the nature of this glitch?

The PATRIOT Act?

anyone care to venture a guess? (1)

Rockenreno (573442) | about 10 years ago | (#9858336)

as to what Operating System they were running?

My guess ... (2, Interesting)

Tim Ward (514198) | about 10 years ago | (#9858393)

... would be a hand-crafted real time kernel, written in assembler, running on an IBM 360 mainframe - isn't that still what drives critical aviation systems?

Re:My guess ... (4, Informative)

sysjkb (574960) | about 10 years ago | (#9858607)

Sounds very unlikely to me. You will find weird custom S/360 derivatives in places like the Space Shuttle, but coordination and route planning doesn't sound a likely place for one.

Of the 360-based operating systems, IBM's TPF [ibm.com] has a major presence in the airline industry, but this probably isn't the system in question. TPF tends to handle ticketing and reservations. TPF stands for the Transaction Processing Facility; it's the descendant of the old Airline Control Program (ACP) developed for Sabre. Sabre in fact is still running TPF, although I believe they're busy transitioning away from the mainframe to Tandem's er I mean Compaq's er I mean HP's NonStop/UX.

Of course, it might not be an IBM mainframe at all; Unisys has a niche in the airline industry. But heck; given that this is route planning, just about anything from AIX to z/OS is a possibility. Even *shudder* Windows.

Must...resist... (-1, Troll)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 10 years ago | (#9858343)

The operating system that drives the airline's flight plans went down.

Okay, EDS runs you-know-what and this is just too easy. So here it goes for a change:

So, like, that's what you get for running Linux. If Linux was open-source, at least you could fix the kernel and things like that wouldn't happen. Because ya know, a million eyes looking at the same code are pretty good to spot bugs and all. But no, Linux is bug-ridden and that's a big Thank-You Linu$. Now, if they had used Windows...

I'm sure we can all guess what which OS tanked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858344)

MVS

Gee, gods, ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858348)

... am I glad I'm flying Delta next Saturday :-) :-) :-)

Yeah, that helps,

Toon Moene

Re:Gee, gods, ... (2, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 10 years ago | (#9858357)

... am I glad I'm flying Delta next Saturday :-) :-) :-)

Don't be so sure... [virgin.net]

Settle down, we've all seen this before... (4, Funny)

the_seal (758154) | about 10 years ago | (#9858350)

Airport BSOD [capgemini.nl]

Re:Settle down, we've all seen this before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858364)

Not the same.

Last thing you want to hear (5, Funny)

xIcemanx (741672) | about 10 years ago | (#9858354)

I'm guessing the last thing you want to hear on a plane now is the pilot saying, "What do you mean, fatal exception error?"

>_ Why don't they swtich to Linux?

Re:Last thing you want to hear (1)

nairb774 (728193) | about 10 years ago | (#9858398)

Then they put linux on the machines and if a core dump comes around I can her th pilot say, "What is a core dump? ... Who crapped on the computer?"

You probably won't hear it (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858540)

The systems that run the aircraft and the navigational and communication systems really are redundant. It's the law. It also means that usually there are two different ways to do something not just the same thing repeated twice.

Example 1 - The pilot and co-pilot can't eat the same meal. That way, only one of them can get food poisoning.

Example 2 - The hydraulic system fails and the wheels won't go down. There's a hand crank.

Example 3 - The communication systems at every tower I have worked at have two separate backbones. There are two of absolutely everything. If that fails, there are emergency radios under the desk. If the emergency radios don't work ... We used to joke that the controllers would climb to the top of the tower and wave fire extinguishers to warn the planes away. (I think it was a joke.)

Example 4 - You can't fly very far over open water in a single engine aircraft.

It used to be frustrating working on systems older than I was but we never had to worry about surprises.

Of course all of this redundancy is very expensive. You spend the money where people's lives are at stake. On the other hand, if the worst problem is that some planes will be late, perhaps you don't spend the big bucks.

Re:Last thing you want to hear (5, Funny)

Brandybuck (704397) | about 10 years ago | (#9858560)

Q: How far can the plane fly after a fatal exception error?

A: All the way to the scene of the crash. Hell, it will probably beat the paramedics there by half an hour!

BSOL (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858369)

Blue screen of life. Because US Air cancelled the flight and we were forced to fly on a competent airline.

EDS (2, Interesting)

sql*kitten (1359) | about 10 years ago | (#9858374)

My experience with EDS is that problem is most likely to have actually been operator error. These people, and CSC are the absolute bottom of the barrel as far as outsourced data centres go. Yes IBM GS costs more, but there's a good reason for that! I'd sooner use Accenture than EDS, and that's saying something.

Re:EDS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858484)

I'd sooner use Accenture than EDS, and that's saying something.
I'd sooner use a yellow legal pad and a pencil than Accenture, and that's saying even more.

Re:EDS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858537)

Something I noticed a while ago is that data center personnel in general are not the people I want with life and death power over my company. Like any job you have a few bright people and the rest are either borderline useful, useless or an actual liability. You have to count on the company itself having good procedures to prevent errors from getting out of control.

I've only worked with EDS as a vendor so I've never seen their operations or support people, but the EDS people I dealt with did not seem to be worse than any other such company I've dealt with. Have you had multiple, personal experience of institutional rot at EDS that would cause idiots to be hired and a lack of proper operational procedures that could cause such an outage?

EDS? Quelle surprise. (5, Interesting)

leathered (780018) | about 10 years ago | (#9858376)

Sorry, have to rant where I see EDS mentioned.

EDS, in cahoots with the UK govenment, have wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers money on failed IT projects. Notable ones include the Inland Revenue (UK IRS), Child Support Agency (£50M over budget and still not working) and an email and directory service for the NHS (withdrew at last minute allowing C&W to steal at a much inflated price).

Though the blame cannot completely be laid at the door of EDS, the government has been guilty of sloppy auditing and the worst being the willingness to hand over extra money when EDS has come around with the begging bowl.

And in related news (-1, Offtopic)

foidulus (743482) | about 10 years ago | (#9858377)

the terror level has just been raised to "Orange" high at the same time that Tom Ridge announced that after the election he will reteire due to financial difficulties. I guess $175,000 a year of tax payer money just doesn't buy a lot now a days.

Re: And in related news (0, Troll)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 10 years ago | (#9858539)


> the terror level has just been raised to "Orange" high at the same time that Tom Ridge announced that after the election he will reteire due to financial difficulties. I guess $175,000 a year of tax payer money just doesn't buy a lot now a days

Probably has more to do with the latest election polls.

Re:And in related news (2, Insightful)

Gzip Christ (683175) | about 10 years ago | (#9858541)

the terror level has just been raised to "Orange" high at the same time that Tom Ridge announced that after the election he will reteire due to financial difficulties. I guess $175,000 a year of tax payer money just doesn't buy a lot now a days.
That's only for DC. The terror level is still "Bert" [geekandproud.net] for the rest of the country.

Regarding his pay, Ridge has got to have one of the most stressful, time consuming, and important jobs in the country, and as such I for one do not think that $175K is nearly enough. Corporate officers frequently make more than that, so why would anybody willingly subject himself to a much more stressful and dangerous job for less money? I've got to side with Ridge.

Steve Balmer (2, Funny)

Stevyn (691306) | about 10 years ago | (#9858378)

You know he's going to convince them not to switch to linux. First he's going to get on a plane...oh wait.

Operating system? (2, Informative)

SlamMan (221834) | about 10 years ago | (#9858381)

Only one of the articles mention said anything about an "operating system." The rest called it a system problem. That does not necessarily mean an OS, or anything related to it. I think katu's reporter jumped to a conclusion.

doesn't it say (1)

Viceice (462967) | about 10 years ago | (#9858383)

Isn't it stated somewhere that a cetain OS, which is forever fair game in this community, should not be used for 'Mission Critical' situations?

I thought everyone knew (5, Funny)

Xerp (768138) | about 10 years ago | (#9858389)

NEVER open Windows in an airplane!

That's what you get when you use EDS (1)

mysterious_mark (577643) | about 10 years ago | (#9858404)

Again another example of EDS shoddiness, why anyone would give money to EDS for anything is beyond me, they deliver inferior service at outrageous prices. M

But EDS has such wonderful commercials... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858544)

With commercials such as the wonderful 2001 super bowl ad, Herding Cats [just4cats.com] , how could they be a shoddy company?

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go order some generic via..., er, drugs, from this flashy animated gif popup e-mail I just got.

[But seriously, the commercial is my all time favorite.]

Wild speculation (3, Insightful)

MisterP (156738) | about 10 years ago | (#9858419)

They aren't telling the whole story.

I come from Solaris/Veritas/Oracle and Redhat/Oracle RAC environments. One single system going down cannot take out the service. Database HA is somewhat complicated and expensive, but it's not rocket science, regardless of platform.

I find it very difficult to believe that they would have any single points of failure in a system of that importance. Blaming MS is the easy way out.

Re:Wild speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858538)

"Blaming MS is the easy way out."

And I'm easy. It's all Microsoft's fault!

Not Windows, Unix (5, Informative)

JohnQPublic (158027) | about 10 years ago | (#9858425)

This is undoubtedly a problem with Sabre, which EDS runs on behalf of Sabre Holdings. Both American Airlines and US Airways use Sabre for much of their operations.

Sabre started it's life as an American Airlines internal system (SABER, slight spelling difference), running on a rare operating system (PARS, later called ACP and currently TPF) on IBM mainframes. In the last few years Sabre completed a lengthy migration to HP Unix on Non-Stop (i.e. ex-Tandem) hardware. The mainframe systems were rock solid, but software talent was hard to come by, so they decided the time had come to switch.

Sorry, no Microsoft to blame here!

Guess IT Does Matter (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858429)

well, i guess IT Does Matter after all....

You don't understand how databases work! (1)

Safety Cap (253500) | about 10 years ago | (#9858436)

Any attempt to retrieve information from them (flight data, schedules, FOIA requests) will result in total, immediate, and irreversable loss of data! [publicintegrity.org]

I warned you. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858467)

That's what you get for running Linux.

here's what happened (3, Funny)

Scythr0x0rs (801943) | about 10 years ago | (#9858488)

"It looks like you are flying an aeroplane, Would you like help?" YES!

EDS (1)

sinnfeiner1916 (793749) | about 10 years ago | (#9858489)

That's H. Ross Perot's company right? I bet that probably explaines it.

What *REALLY* happened... (5, Funny)

catdevnull (531283) | about 10 years ago | (#9858490)

At about 4:30 a.m., the outsourced SysAdmin was setting up to do routine patches to Windows 2003 server nodes. But just before, he decided to check his e-mail with Outlook and he opened an important message from his system administrator advising him that his e-mail would be de-activated if he didn't open the important attachment. I think we all know what happened after that...

Not Smart Enough (3, Interesting)

PingPongBoy (303994) | about 10 years ago | (#9858495)

It seems that computer failures are not very graceful. In a large business if an employee or even the chairman of the board is sick, the business still runs. However, failure of the central computer means no one knows how to make anything run.

Perhaps the efficiencies of a computerized business offset the cost of short downtimes, and the business is able to grow to the complexity that it isn't worth running without the computer. A 2 or 3 hour stoppage once in a blue moon (that was last month, and it looked big) might not be worth working around.

All the same I'm hesitant to let computer failures stand in the way of normality. Major infrastructure may be interrupted by nature but it can be scary for it to be stopped by computer problems. Who knows how long the system will be down? Who knows how much damage to information went unnoticed? Who knows what errors still exist?

Increasing computerization causes increasing paranoia. Guard yourself prophylactically? Ask hard questions before entering relationships with big business? Insist on financial compensation against computer delays?

Computer systems need to be built with more safeguards (redundancy, logging, checkpoints, backups), isolation of failure, data accessibility during failure (example: Windows safe mode) even for end users, etc.

Linux? (1)

bogaboga (793279) | about 10 years ago | (#9858502)

Anyone know whether these airlines are using Linux in any [mission critical] way? BTW, what would you consider as the most important mission critical system? Could it be in Banking, Hospitals, Airline systems, Educational, Nuclear....? What is a mission critical system anyway?

TERROR WARNING LEVEL ORANGE!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858518)

We're all gonna die!

Oh well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9858522)

In Soviet Russia, US Airways grounds database glitches anyway. :-D

computer error (1)

moartea (703940) | about 10 years ago | (#9858580)

was it something like this ?
http://www.cs.utk.edu/~shuford/terminal/airport_bs od.jpg

EDS (0, Offtopic)

nuxx (10153) | about 10 years ago | (#9858581)

Interestingly, last night while at a party I burned my copy [nuxx.net] of an EDS book which was ghost written for the old CEO. Yep, the same CEO that got EDS investigated by the SEC, caused a bunch of employees to lose jobs, etc.

This isn't what you think (3, Interesting)

xenophrak (457095) | about 10 years ago | (#9858601)


Even though this sounds dire, I have a feeling that this does nothing to compromise airline safety.

From the sounds of it, the flight planning system went down. This is a ground-system only, often a terminal next to the ticket checking counter. The purpose is to file flight plans, check weather airport conditions, etc. It is not an onboard system. This would not have likely decreased passenger safety.

The reason that the FAA got involved was because AA decided to ground the planes because the pilots most likely couldn't file flight plans electronically. If left to the filing flight plans the old way, it would have delayed things more and caused more headaches to just wait out the system outage.

However, when any business runs and depends on a particular piece of software to generate revenue and to provide a service, I would be more inclined to host such a system on something like a mainframe or at least a big Unix server.

"Just technological" (1)

Greenspan (245650) | about 10 years ago | (#9858619)

"Hotard said the problem was purely technological."

Oh, what a relief!

That reminds me of the Seinfeld episode "The Betrayal" where the gang goes to India and George finds out Jerry slept with Nina:

JERRY: Alright, I admit it. I slept with Nina, but that's all.

GEORGE: (Outraged) "That's all"?! That's everything! I don't know what all the rest of it is for anyway!
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