It's Not Just Machines That Need Warming Up In Frigid Temperatures

An extra margin of time is just as important as an extra margin of safety.


In areas of the country used to brutally cold winters and the attendant ice and snow storms, this is not new. But for areas of the country that got walloped this week with record low temperatures and icing conditions, it may have come as somewhat of a surprise how the cold affects more than just the machines.

I was talking to a friend this past week who manages a good-sized corporate FBO in the Midwest, one of the parts of the country that was hit hard these last few days, but not a part used to the kind of winters we expect in Boston and other northern airports. So, my friend took all the necessary precautions with regard to airplanes and equipment, moving them indoors in advance of the severe weather.

But when it came to getting the operation back up, he underestimated how his people would perform in extreme cold, wind and icy conditions. While, of course, he knew that people would be moving much more slowly and carefully, he underestimated just how much more slowly.

In the end, he found himself missing deadlines for departures by some customers anxious to get on their way. It’s hard to know how much time to leave in these circumstances, but clearly you don’t want employees unfamiliar with cold and ice hurrying. That could be a recipe for disaster – or at least significant injury or aircraft damage. The better approach might be to leave yourself significantly more time than you anticipate needing and to explain clearly to customers why you’re building in an extra margin of time.