MRO Magazine

Predictive maintenance lesson in Blackcomb ski-lift incident

Whistler, BC -- There's a lesson for industrial maintenance personnel in this story from Brendan Casey of www.Hydra...

Health & Safety

December 17, 2008
By MRO Magazine

Whistler, BC — There’s a lesson for industrial maintenance personnel in this story from Brendan Casey of He wrote earlier this week, on Weds., Dec. 17, 2008: “As you may have heard on the news, one of the pylons supporting the Blackcomb Gondola at the Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort in Canada snapped yesterday.


“I rode on this lift less than an hour before the failure occurred. A lucky escape for me.



“Although I understand no one was seriously injured, it was definitely enough unplanned excitement to spoil your day’s skiing.


“Of course, the mountain was buzzing with news today. The reaction of your typical skier upon hearing about it for the first time was shock and astonishment.


“But if you’ve worked around mechanical equipment all your life, as I have, you know any equipment can fail at any time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Boeing 747, a ski-lift or a hydraulic power unit.


“Although a desirable goal, expecting 100% reliability is just not realistic.


“This means designers of critical machines have a responsibility to mitigate the consequences of failure with redundancy and fail-safe mechanisms.


“And if you’re in charge of hydraulic or any other type of mechanical equipment — especially if it’s critical in nature, you have an ongoing responsibility to ensure your preventative maintenance practices and procedures are up to snuff.


“High-profile failures like the one at Whistler-Blackcomb yesterday serve to remind us that we can never take historic reliability for granted: Just because your equipment has worked without fault in the past, it doesn’t mean it always will. And why, if you are responsible for the maintenance of any type of critical equipment, you can never afford to take your eye of the ball.”