Saturday, December 10, 2005

Three Times Three (and bonus jargon)

We return you to today's Mercury News. Not that I'm picking on them--they just happen to be there. From an article on airport runway safety, it describes beds of crushed gravel as safety zones at the ends of runways and says that such systems "have stopped three dangerous overruns three times since May 1999 at Kennedy Airport." I'm afraid for my flying safety if indeed there have been 9 dangerous overruns in total. Don't you find it interesting that, in each of the three times when the safety beds worked, there were three simultaneous dangerous overruns? Or perhaps I'm confused—perhaps there were only three overruns, but each had to be stopped three times? (Why, didn't they get it right the first time?)

The airport industry assists in my confusion by referring to "Engineered Material Arresting Systems (EMAS)". Another example of appalling industry jargon. With an appalling acronym, as well. Picture yourself the next time you're piloting your 747 into Kennedy Airport, and your brakes are failing, and someone yells "head for the EMAS!" What the f***, you'd be thinking to yourself, does that mean? It means, gentle readers, crushed gravel beds at the ends of runways. Now, if they really felt that they had to give it an acronymizable name, why not something more obvious, like Emergency Gravel Airport Deflection System (EGADS)? Now picture yourself screeching in for the same emergency landing, and the control tower could simply yell, "Egads!" Everything would be hunky dory. See, someone should pay me for these ideas.

(San Jose Mercury News, Dec 10, 2005, "Hemmed-in Chicago runway scrutinized after fatal crash".)


JMKM said...

EGADS! Hilarious! As an engineer I'll be sure to run my technical jargon by you before I end up with a lame acronym.

Elf said...

And it's about time, too! ;-)