Murphy's Law is proven correct,again and again...
Let's read the excerpt from Wikipedia on Terminal 5:
Queen Elizabeth II officially opened Terminal 5 in a ceremony on 14 March 2008. The first flights to and from Terminal 5 occured on 27 March 2008. The first flight to use the terminal was British Airways flight 26 from Hong Kong. Flight 302 to Paris was the first flight departure from Terminal 5 at 06:20 GMT.
On the day of the terminal opening, British Airways cancelled 34 flights due to "teething problems" and was later forced to suspend passenger check-in. A malfunction in the new high-tech baggage handling system meant that flights had taken off with no bags and people were facing delays of up to 4 hours waiting for their baggage. On Thursday 27 March and Friday 28 March, 100 flights were cancelled whilst delays continued for a third day on the following Saturday.
As a practising project manager,I am shocked at the extent of the problems!By the way, this is 4.3 billions pounds transport hub.I don't really know what is the real problems that have resulted in the mulfunction of the baggage handling system,so I don't have any comments yet.
However, this incident reminded me of the case study of Denver International Airport as mentioned by Aaron J Shenhar & Dov Dvir in their book REINVENTING PROJECT MANAGEMENT.(HBS Press).According to the book, simple Diamond Analysis indicated that there was a gap in special needs required to manage high-tech baggage handling system in the case study.
By the way,I have written about a similar case when our KLIA has some problem of similar nature but of different magnitude in Jan,2004.This reminded me to take note of any lessons learned.
PS:Let me quote an interview reported in PM Network magazine,March 2008.Below I append an answer by Dr David Hillson,Ph D,PMP when he was asked:Why is risk management is important to project management?
Projects are all about uncertainty.They're complex.They include interfaces and dependencies,and they are also based on assumptions and we do not know how those are going to turn out.Sometimes,we even made false assumptions. Project are also done by people,and that brings added uncertainty.So risk management has to be at the centre of the way that we manage projects.