Now that most of the kinks have been worked out of the international side of things, it's time to start thinking about the next patch. This one is likely to be quite a lot of work, and as a consequence of that we're looking at doing some open testing before we set it loose. The preliminary release date for the next patch is the 29th of September 2009. This is not a definite date; depending on how the testing goes it could slip a bit, but the 29th is the current target date.
Why all the fuss?
Well, we unearthed a pretty major error in the part of the program that handles passenger distribution; specifically, it turns out that the smaller airports, which shouldn't have been handling passenger transfers, were doing so. This was exacerbated by the the 1-leg travel bug; somehow the combination of the two created a situation where passengers could switch between flights in as little as five minutes, the end result of which being that transfer time restrictions were rendered effectively meaningless.
That this has been going on for so long without being noticed much is obviously something of a shock; the cause was buried in an apparently unrelated piece of code, and so managed to escape detection for a while. However, the primary objective of this next patch is to fix it, so we should have a much more realistic passenger environment once we're done.
What'll you see out of the next patch?
There are likely to be a few immediately obvious effects; passenger connections at very small airports - that is, those which don't currently have an indicated minimum transfer time - will no longer take place. Since the connections in question have been essentially invisible so far this may be more of an issue than seems immediately obvious, particularly for airlines with a large number of interlining partners; at the same time, passenger connections at hubs will be following the stated transfer rules much more closely, so ensuring that there is enough time between flights for transfers to occur in these places will be more critical than ever.
How do we test these changes?
A duplicate of the German 'Kai Tak' server has been uploaded to our internal test server, Woomera. This server is integrated with the German Aquila account administration system, so you'll need to have an account on that system if you wish to access it. If you do, you can find the server on your Aquila account administration page. Please take into account the following points regarding the test server:
· Using an existing Kai Tak account on the test server is free; no credit charge will be applied.
· New holdings and airlines will not be activated.
· Please bear in mind that odd behaviour, performance bottlenecks, bugs and server resets may be encountered at any time!
The ultimate goal of this whole process is to test the fixes to the bugs mentioned above in a busy but reproducible and relatively static environment; with this in mind, please refrain from making major changes to your airlines on the test server for the time being. This will be an ongoing process, and the end result of it should, ideally, be the production of effective fixes to these bugs that do not result in disruption to the active servers. Please bear in mind, however, that such disruption may still occur, as the German servers in particular have been working without these restrictions for quite some time.