Say Thanks to This Guy Next Time You Land Safely: Meet the Man Keeping JetBlue Safe
If you’ve ever traveled anywhere, you know to keep your eye on the weather. Especially when you’re flying. As an air traveller, you know that the weather can seriously disrupt your travel plans and leave you stranded at the airport – or on the tarmac. Clear skies is the way to go when it comes to air travel but, unfortunately, not every day comes with the perfect weather for flying.
That said, the next time you arrive at your destination safely and on time, even when the weather is not so great, think of Kevin Crowley.
Kevin is the Sr. Analyst for Ground Safety Programs at JetBlue Airways – the sixth largest airline in the United States. JetBlue serves over 100 cities in the Americas, and Kevin is a large part of ensuring safe travels for JetBlue’s passengers on more than 1,000 flights every day. Rain or shine.
He came on The Continuity Forecast to share what strategies, tactics, and technologies he uses to keep the traveling public (and his crews on the ground) safe from severe weather. Listen to the full episode now or scroll down to read the highlights.
The Environmental Risks
We can probably all think of the most obvious flying risks, like icing. But that’s not the only major weather concern when it comes to airport safety.
Kevin said these are the 3 major concerns he faces:
- High winds
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, fueling the aircraft, loading and unloading baggage, and so on, 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 airfield.
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. Things like fueling the aircraft can become extremely dangerous when lightning is nearby. 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 track and prepare for lightning events. (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 to make sure they have full situational awareness when it comes to weather.
‘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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time!
This blog post was taken from The Continuity Forecast podcast. We know business never stops. Check us out, leave us a review!