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Antiquated Technology Caused Southwest & FAA’s Operational Collapses

southwest airplane

Southwest Airlines experienced a “perfect storm” when 16,000+ flights were canceled, creating a “catastrophic operational collapse” over the holidays. While storms contributed, Southwest’s outdated computer system turned the weather-related problems into a crisis.

Southwest, which was using an outdated IT infrastructure, admitted that their IT capabilities lagged behind other airlines.

In another catastrophe, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) caused nationwide chaos when they temporarily paused domestic flights on Jan. 11 because of a critical alert system failure. This disruption, which canceled or delayed thousands of flights, was caused by the breakdown of an antiquated government computer system that offers safety information to pilots. Aviation insiders couldn’t recall any prior instances of similarly widespread outages from technology failure.

In the wake of these massive aviation interruptions, companies should evaluate their current operating systems and invest in the right hardware and software to prevent issues that can occur during periods of high demand (e.g., airlines during the holidays), loss of power, etc. Investing in secondary hardware is an option that can help companies maximize their IT budget, allowing them to allocate the savings towards upgrading their software, while minimizing the significant cost of upgrading their IT infrastructure.

Improve your IT infrastructure by:

Investing in digital transformation to avoid negative ramifications.

Investing in the right technology will boost financial results, your company’s reputation, as well. as customer satisfaction and loyalty. Case in point: Southwest’s stocks fell nearly 16 percent due to the December disruptions, their customers were enraged, and Congress promised to investigate this debacle. Additionally, scathing media coverage and social media posts negatively impacted Southwest’s reputation. The key question that companies face is how to begin their digital transformation journey. Inteleca, with its expertise in technology and industry knowledge, can assist companies in identifying the right investments to improve financial results, enhance reputation and increase customer satisfaction.

Implementing effective crisis protocols.

Unfortunately, Southwest didn’t have automated tools (or well-established protocols) to contact reassigned crew members. In addition, the FAA’s old mainframe systems were tragically out of date, causing this meltdown. As we saw in both of these instances, it’s detrimental to not have modern tools, technologies, and procedures, as archaic tech systems can cause operational meltdowns.

Learning from past failures.

In 2021, Southwest canceled more than 1,800 flights.  Without robust, comprehensive improvements, they experienced another significant disaster. Luckily, IT leaders can learn from these mistakes. It can be difficult to assess what changes need to be made within your current operating system, so leave it to the experts. Stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, so you can focus on what matters most — growing and managing your business.

Adopting a tech-forward culture.

Adopt and embrace technology, which often includes developing and maintaining proprietary software, committing to talent development, investing in tech capabilities, and modernizing your infrastructure. Southwest’s decades-old software is being blamed for the holiday meltdown, and the FAA’s outdated mainframe system halted U.S. air travel. Committing to tech-forward cultures and investing in more modern tech solutions can help IT infrastructures run smoothly. 

Don’t wait until a disaster to act.

Invest in legacy modernizations now, especially if you’re using complex operational systems. Secure the right infrastructure, teams, and partners to ensure your technology can withstand high-demand situations.

Let the Inteleca experts evaluate your architecture and hardware needs. With Inteleca on your side, you can soar with confidence, knowing that your business has the reliable, modern systems it needs to keep you flying smoothly. Contact us to discuss your unique business needs and goals.