Words of Advice:

"We have it totally under control. It's one person coming from China. It's going to be just fine." -- Donald Trump, 1/22/2020

“We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here..and isn't it refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama."
-- Trump Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, 2/25/20

"I don't take responsibility for anything." --Donald Trump, 3/13/20

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Monday, January 18, 2010

What the Hell?

They are landing 90 airplanes a day at Haiti, according to this press release from the US Southern Command. That is less than one airplane every fifteen minutes, given that the airport is "open for 24-hour operations".

Four landings an hour is a snooze-level operation. There has to be major problems with offloading and cargo handling.

Admittedly the airplanes were smaller and slower, but during the Berlin Blockade, airplanes were landing in Berlin between one and two a minute. True, there were three airports in Berlin, plus the Brits were landing seaplanes in the river, and there are two international airports in Haiti and only one heavy-jet capable runway in the whole nation. But there are other airports capable of handling C-130s.

The bottlenecks need to be solved, and fast. 90 flight a day into the country, even if they are all heavy-lift cargo flights (which they obviously aren't), isn't going to cut it.



Karen Zipdrive said...

Do they have more than one runway?
Poor Haiti. To go from being a third world country to a fourth world country makes it seem like they're never gonna dig themselves out.
If I were running things in Haiti, I'd immediately set up marijuana farms and create a new tourist destination that rivals Amsterdam.

Unknown said...

What I've read on other boards is that the pre-earthquake average was about one flight per hour. The airport only had two towbars. 90 flights in means 90 flights out, or an airplane being shifted to or from the runway every seven and a half minutes. They could dump cargo on the ramp, of course, but that presumes there are enough trucks to clear the ramps so it doesn't clog up there.

Trucks need fuel. Airplanes need fuel. Bigger airplanes can leave without refueling, but the trucks are relying on the fuel that was in the country when they got there and, as anyone who's ever seen a post-Apocalypse movie knows, the nearest, easiest-to-access supplies are soon exhausted and you have to fan out looking for more.

And poor Haiti never stored a lot of fuel or needed a lot of trucks because they never had to move this much stuff before. The trucks are scattered all over the city, as in most cities, and they are blocked from reaching the airport by the shattered infrastructure. And that is if the people that possess them know to go to the airport. They may be using them to collect the dead or go get water from the countryside because all the mains are shattered.

Bottom line: this is not easy to do. Berlin was a functioning city with functioning civil authority and everything was working; the comparison is not apt.

Try to imagine how hard it would be to increase by four the number of planes flying into a regional airport. Now try to imagine if the roads leading the airport could handle a tenfold increase in truck traffic. Now try to imagine an earthquake had blocked some of the roads with rubble and collapsed some of the overpasses, forcing the drives to make long detours. Then try to imagine that there was no more fuel coming to the tank farm at the airport (modern airports, like all other businesses, have made a fetish of "just-in-time" delivery, meaning they only keep enough on hand for a few days).

And then imagine being swamped by refugees invading the perimeter looking for food or water or medical attention or simply the comfort of knowing someone is in charge.

Give the US military its due: whatever its deficiencies in other areas, it really does excel at logistics and is doing about as good a job as anyone else would under the circumstances. It's just hard, is all.

Comrade Misfit said...

Karen, the airport in Port-au-Prince has one runway, 9,970' long.

James, then they need to restrict flights in to heavy-lift cargo aircraft that can carry enough fuel to get to a refueling point. Regardless of the fact that the airplanes are faster and larger, there are a lot of lessons in how to run a sustained airlift that can be learned from the Berlin Airlift, if anyone bothers to make the effort.

Nap Flyer said...

There is another difference, though, between the current mess in Haiti and the Berlin Bockade: Of all of the peoples in the world, the Germans are close to the most hard-wired to do what they are told to do.

Cujo359 said...

I think if we're going to talk about German cities, then Dresden would be a good lesson. It was bombed by the Allies late in the war to keep reinforcements from reaching the Russian front. Rubble in the streets would prevent troops and civilians from moving. That's what Port Au Prince looks like right now.

If the airport is only used to one flight an hour, that would imply that there's not a lot of space for planes to park while they're being unloaded. There probably wasn't a lot of equipment to unload them, either.

One thing that the Army has gotten good at over the years is figuring out how to get stuff where it's needed. I suspect they have as much engineering equipment and people as they could move there trying to clear out the city streets and make roads. Unfortunately, it's going to take time. As you're clearly aware, that's not a resource the Haitians have in abundance.

Cujo359 said...

Here's a picture of the airport, by the way. I was imagining it to be about the size of Lehigh Valley's airport (LVI). Actually, I think LVI is bigger.