February 12, 2007

Horse 718 - Quite Frankly, We're Lost

A report released by IATA last week has stated that the practice of naming airports after famous people is likely to cause confusion amongst pilots and especially those from Non-English speaking backgrounds. On the ABC this morning there were a few people with serious and stern voices condemning the practice as though something terrible had occurred.

How hillarious is this? Are they actually serious?

John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York city is famous the world over. Would people be confused if they named it after the suburb it happens to be in? Probably yes, for it would then be called Jamaica Airport.
Charles de Gaulle International Airport not surprisingly is named after the founder of the fifth Republic of France. People might be confused if it was named Roissy after the local area.
John Lennon International not surprisingly is in Liverpool. If you were a Serbian pilot who didn't happen to have heard of The Beatles then you're forgiven.
Chinggis Khaan International Airport of course is in Mongolia, but perhaps one would prefer not to undertake similar travel plans to the man himself.

The point is that if you are a qualified pilot for a big airline, wouldn't you be expected to plan the whole flight path rather than just hope? Imagine you're flying into Charles Kingsford-Smith from the United States:

This is your pilot speaking. We are currently flying at 19,000 feet. Look, we don't actually know where the airport is. Let's just fly around Sydney for a bit and find the nearest one.

Ok, bad example. Because Sydney only has one international airport then this would work, but for somewhere like New York which has three or Tokyo which has two (which are both over 90 miles from the centre of town), pilots would be lost. Would you honestly feel safe on a plane with a pilot who didn't know where they were going? Message for IATA: Planes aren't taxis!

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