The report scrutinizes company's IT/IS policy in this context and delves into issues which could crop up when a new IS/IT system is implemented in accordance with system development practices.
Comair a regional airline based in Cincinnati US, stated operations with just three propeller planes in 1977. By 2004 it had 179 regional jets under its operations and in 2004, 12 million people flew Comair jets; that is a quantum jump from an operational perspective. But when in December 2004, its IT system failed it was evident that though the airline had grown in size and business yet its operational risk management structure was not well placed, especially in case of information systems management. On fateful date of December 25th 2004 Comair had to stop all operations and ground its 1100 flights which adversely affected 30,000 travelers and the company lost $20 million. This incident and the occurrences following it did not happen due to any momentary lapse in management or in the information technology system of Comair. Rather there were many significant points behind it.
From 1977 to 2004, Comair grew from 3 propeller jets to 177 Bombardier jets having1100 flights per day. But even in 1984, when Comair had 25 propeller jets under its operations, the company still used pen and paper to manage its flight crew. It was only under pressure from its unions and due to federal regulations; the company upgraded its procedures a bit. But then also the company went for leasing software and not buying from SBS International. Even this leased software was old and written in a language know as FORTRAN which dated back to the 1950s and moreover Comair did not have any specialist in its fold for this programming language. This old software still ran on Old IBM AIX version of the in-house UNIX based operating system and not on the new version. This IT legacy system was old and ran on equally old platforms written on very old programming language.
It has been reported that 'legacy IT systems' carry various shortcomings or problems. It is seen that these legacy systems usually have software applications written in very old programming languages like COBOL and they operate in old platform environment like IBM IMS and also there is lack of coordination between the components of the system (Yang H. and Ward M., 2003). These same ills were present in Comair's IT system also.
Again in 1997 the company wanted to upgrade its legacy IT system but even in the next 2 years the company did nothing in this front other than coming up with a system upgradation plan by an aviation consultancy and software firm. Then in the wake of the year 2000, it became engrossed in solving the Y2K problem completely forgetting about the consultancy report. The