The NTSB has now been called in to investigate that power outage at the Los Angeles ARTCC in Palmdale, CA last week. Safety board investigators will interview controllers, check tapes and go over other information to find out whether any of the 200 or so aircraft under the facility’s control were endangered when the computers, radars, phones and lights went out for about two hours. The FAA says there was no loss of separation among the aircraft that suddenly lost guidance from the ground when the power went out. But controllers on duty at the time say that’s not true. When a truck hit a power pole in Palmdale, knocking out primary power to the facility. The ARTCC’s back-up generators kicked in… but were soon taken off-line by surge protectors designed to protect sensitive equipment in just such an emergency.
That meant controllers were unable to track more than 200 flights in California, Arizona and Nevada… aircraft traveling above 18,000 feet. The resulting traffic jam left 348 commercial flights either delayed or canceled.
The Los Angeles Times reports international carriers spent about $1.5 million housing and feeding passengers stuck at the gate.
Since the outage, airlines, local government officials, pilots and controllers have had a sit-down debriefing with the FAA… hoping to improve emergency communications in the event of another outage like this one.
For More Information: www.ntsb.gov