Say Thanks to This Guy Next Time You Land Safely: Meet the Man Keeping JetBlue Safe

  • Jan 18, 2019

If you’ve ever traveled anywhere, you know about weather. You know how it can dramatically shift your plans and reshape your feelings of safety. Traveling is good. But traveling safely and timely? That’s awesome.

Well next time you arrive at your destination safely and timely, think of Kevin Crowley.

He’s the Sr. Analyst for Ground Safety Programs at JetBlue Airways. They serve over 100 cities in the Americas, and Kevin’s a large part of ensuring safe travels for JetBlue’s passengers.

He came on The Continuity Forecast to share what strategies, tactics, and technologies he uses to keep the traveling public safe.

The Environmental Risks

We can probably all think of the most obvious flying risks, like icing. We’d be right. But that’s not the only major weather concern when it comes to airport safety. Kevin said these are the 3 major concerns:

  • High winds
  • Icing
  • Lightning

 

From November to April, especially in the Pacific northwest and the northeast, cold weather barrels in and drives rough storms in dozens of cities. Many airline employees work outside, so these factors (as well as cold weather) have considerable impact on any airline operation.

“Active monitoring helps us reduce aircraft delays and keeps our crew members safe out in the operation.” — Kevin Crowley

Besides weather delays and safety of the aircraft, there are other concerns as well, such as black ice, which will hit surfaces where employees and travelers may set foot. Then there’s the consideration of lightning, which is especially dangerous for workers out in the open.

Yes: High Winds & Ice. (But Don’t Forget the Lightning)

When a lightning event occurs within proximity to an aircraft, the ramp is shut down and employees must take shelter. Knowing when and where lightning will likely strike is a major concern, affecting safety and timeliness.

Kevin gets what it’s like to be outside on a tarmac … in a storm.

He started out his airline career on a ramp back in 1993.

The industry has learned a lot since then through trial and error, and new technology has also evolved that’s continually increasing their capacity to predict and track. (They actually use our lightning detection system.)

Active Monitoring Equals Increased Continuity

Kevin noted a particular storm he tracked in the northeast. It started as simple rain, but throughout the night, the temperatures began to drop, freezing much of the rain and turning it into black ice.

As he and his team tracked the storm from west to east, they observed the steep drops in temperature, and they began alerting ground crews in various cities: Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Buffalo, then Rochester,  Burlington, Providence, and Boston, and eventually all the way in Portland, Maine.

Because of their proactivity in tracking the storm, they were able to alert their ground crews ahead of time to store certain equipment indoors, spray de-icing fluid on other equipment, and be prepared to de-ice untreated surfaces to prevent injury to crew and customers.

Active monitoring with applications that allow us to observe weather as it moves across the U.S., helps us reduce aircraft delays. These also help us keep our crew members safe out in the operation.” — Kevin Crowley

Use Multiple Data Sources

Ever wonder how the smartest safety analysts make decisions? Kevin says they use multiple resources.

“When it comes to weather and making decisions on operations, we use multiple data sources.” — Kevin Crowley

They utilize available tracking and detection systems from the FAA, individual airports, as well as their own systems.

‘3 Hours Tops.’ How Weather Affected a New FAA Rule

As traveling has become more accessible, and more individuals are beginning to fly, new rules have developed in response to weather.

One rule, for instance, is a new tarmac rule: Any airplane that is delayed cannot keep passengers more than 3 hours on the plane. At the 3-hour mark, the plane must return to the terminal so passengers can stretch their legs, use the restroom, get water, etc.

This is a direct response to weather concerns and increased passenger travel, Kevin said.

How to Say Thank You To Kevin

If you’re like me, you probably want to shake Kevin’s hand the next time you see him for keeping us all safe.

If you don’t bump into him at the airport, you can email him at kevin.crowley@jetblue.com.

Until next time!

This blogpost was taken from The Continuity Forecast podcast. We know business never stops. Check us out, leave us a review!