Heathrow Terminal Five

If I were to write that the launch of the new terminal at London's Heathrow Airport seems a sad affair, as much reported in the news, that would not do justice to the inconvenience experienced by the many passengers who became separated from their luggage.

Being an engineer at heart, I felt I had to enquire how extensive the commissioning within the project had been of the luggage handling system. Before opening the terminial, to what extent had they tried to simulate the arrival of aeroplanes full of luggage?

I e-mailed British Airways to ask their “Corporate Responsibility” department. They suggested I contacted British Airports Authority (BAA) who had “responsibility for” the terminal. They did not reply to my e-mail.

Surely there are serious corporate responsibility issues here? On the one hand this is just a private project. On the other hand, quite apart from the cost to someone of reuniting baggage with passengers scattered across the world, the cost to the country of the wasted time of so many passengers stranded at the airport is mind-boggling. If this were due to negligent project management, would the guilty firm get fined for this kind of thing?

This has not been a perfect project (but whatever is?) however hopefully once it is working we shall have some national pride in the finished product. I hope too that there has been some pride among the engineering team – at least before opening day. That is why I am also surprised that I have not been able to find some chronicle of the project plans on the internet.

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