Archive for the snow Category

Do the Maths …

Posted in air traffic control, atc, baa, bbc, Darwin Awards, disruption, entertainment, environment, Humour, life, media, simon calder, snow, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 13, 2011 by norvenmunky

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, apparently the UK’s MP’s have come to the conclusion that the UK now needs a ‘Snow Supremo’ because its mid May and someone in accounts has just knocked the calender over, it falling open at ‘December’. This group of MP’s examined the impact of heavy snow last December which shut Heathrow, Gatwick and major train lines, and left roads impassable. There’s an inevitability here that a load of people have sat around a table listening to people who don’t have a simple grasp of maths, talking to people who don’t have a grasp of maths. You rapidly come to the conclusion that we’d learn more factual and useful information if we’d paid them to sit around lighting and analysing their own farts. Don’t get me wrong re mathematical ability, despite my current employ, I was labelled early on as ‘Suitable for Parks and Gardens’. In retrospect it may have been an extremely astute careers teacher who thought, ‘this ones trouble’ keep him outside in the shit, rather than inside creating it, alternatively, they may have been as thick as pig muck. I know where my vote is.
We all know there are known knowns as Mr Rumsfeld would have us believe. For simplicity there are various impirical measures that we use, and we all understand what they mean as we can all relate to the sizes quoted. They are in no particular order, london bus, Wales, jumbo jet. These are helpfully rolled out by our ‘meejah mates’ so we, as simple folk can understand whats going on. Unfortunately our ‘meejah mates’ don’t stop to think about how to use the cumulative drivel they are seeping into the nations subconcious to provide a more ballanced outlook on life.

So lets look at out ‘stressed passenger’ at the airport that has just closed in heavy snow. Apparently airlines must give accurate information about delays out to the passenger and provide acommodation etc etc. So assume we’re on RyanJet, a low cost airline flying 150 seat airliners. Today we’re lucky all the aircraft are only 2/3rds full with 100 punters per flight. We are however at a busy single runway airport with 30 movements per hour. That means every two minutes an aeroplane departs. We won’t bother with arrivals it’ll get too messy, we’ll assume its the first wave banzai charge of the morning thats been culled. Unfortunately we are at the back of the queue of those wanting info. So in front of us we have 30 x 100 passengers all wanting information they can bellow into their crackberries that they’re ‘at the airport’. Thats 3,000 people/6 x jumbo jets/53.57 x london busses of people all in front of us. We have ten check in desks available to help answer our questions. Thats 300 people/5.3 london busses, per bint per desk. Fortunately all the bints are as fast/helpful as the legendary Jane Boulton and either answer the query or shoot the passenger dead within one minute of them arriving at the front of the queue. So at the back of the queue we will be waiting ‘a while’ before we get seen or shot individually.

So one aggrieved passenger suggests …
Major airports and stations should have accommodation reserved for when people are stranded, and food in place.

Ok, Mrs Thickass-Hite at the back of the queue, lets look at the Abiss Hotel in Luton. 162 rooms, (we’ll assume they’re all doubles). That means one hotel can accomodate one queue each (for cash). So the airport/airline has to book for Mrs TS (in case it snows), ten entire hotels in the vicinity of the airport, just for one hours worth of departures at two thirds airframe capacity. For the benefit of Mrs TS that assumes they are fortuitously empty on that particular day, and that as if by magic, when it pisses down with snow, not one other non-airline traveller in the vicinity of the airport is going to consider booking into a hotel overnight because the weathers bad. Also no doubt she’ll want a personal taxi to the pre-booked hotel, or a coach, and she’ll insist on being at the front of the queue. Course with the snow falling and the roads a bit ‘busy’ you’ll be at any of the ‘pre-booked just in case and cost not passed on to you in increased ticket price hotels’, in a matter of minutes inside the taxi or coach that would have been doing nothing at that time of the morning anyway.

An 'empty' hotel car park

Then there’s clearing the snow at airports. The most important thing is to get the runway clear, then you can land an aeroplane. And thats it, thats all you can do, because you haven’t cleared the taxiway or parking stand. Until you do that you’re cattled. Lets look at those times. The runway is 2,000 metres long x 50 metres wide. Your snow plough is 10 metres wide and can plough at 10kmh. So if the snow has stopped falling enough to allow the runway to remain clear after each pass, that’s an hour just to do the runway before you start on the parking stand and taxiways. Oh and the service roads because you’ll need to put fuel in the plane and food water etc etc, and no, you can’t use salt. One thing missing is the shamen whom are able to tell us exactly how much snow will fall, and where, and when it will stop, not terribly surprising the comittee didn’t find one either. So if you’re a punter at the end of the second hours worth of booking in/flights … well do the maths, and ask Simon Calder to do them too while you’re at it, then he can talk a little less drivel than normal …