Not so much, it turns out. Four Southern California airports yesterday were subject to a full ground stop. No flights were allowed to take off from LAX, John Wayne, Bob Hope in Burbank, or Ontario International. Various airports told passengers about the delays over Twitter, and the LAX Twitter feed described the problem as related to "computer issues." But the FAA - per this LAist post - started off refusing to comment. A local news station pushed for more information, and they were told to go to fly.faa.gov - which wasn't giving any useful information either. Eventually the agency issued a statement explaining what happened: "The FAA’s Los Angeles Center air traffic control facility experienced technical issues and stopped accepting additional flights into the airspace." OK Then.
Just counting LAX, at least 27 inbound flights were diverted, 27 were cancelled, and the delays reached over 200 flights. Some 30 planes were kept loaded on the runway, including a couple that were there for two hours. The cascade effects across the rest of the country - because remember, a ground stop means that all incoming flights are held at their departing airports - must have been delightful.
As for TSA, we just can't any more you guys. Two weeks ago the story was that the agency was expanding its behavior profiling program even though a government study had shown it was useless. Last week we learned that TSA's former inspector general had deliberately altered or delayed unfavorable performance reports. Today the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report (link here, quick summary here) noting that TSA hasn't even been testing their new scanning machines properly.
Apparently there are a range of drills that they're simply not doing. Then there are other drills that they do, but where they don't collect all the data they're supposed to. Because why would they?
[Photo: KTLA 5]