Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Do Airplanes Have to Fly Blind?

Aviation professionals say that a power outage at a flight control center is “absolutely the worst scenario” one can think of. Our continuing feature on industries most affected by power outages.

In one of the worst flight control center blackouts in recent years, a major power failure at a key control center in California, USA, disrupted hundreds of commercial flights and delayed the test of a launch missile.

In July 21, 2006, the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center lost electrical power for two hours after a pick-up truck rammed into a power pole. The center automatically began running small-scale back-up generators, until those lost power as well. From then on, the building went dark.

In an interview with the Aviation Law News website, Bruce Bates, one of the center’s controllers, described the horrendous event as one of the absolutely worst scenarios a controller like him could ever think of. “For the duration of the blackout, the airplanes were up there, flying blind.”

To work around the pressing situation, Bates and his fellow controllers were compelled to use their cellular phones, which are normally required to be turned off in the control room. “We used our phones,” said Bates, "to contact other control towers to ask them to issue warnings to the aircraft.”

The Los Angeles center was responsible for directing high-altitude aircraft in Southern California, Nevada, Utah and parts of Arizona. Owing to the outage, approximately 350 flights were either grounded, delayed or diverted, and more than 25,000 passengers were inconvenienced.

Also affected was the test launch of one Minuteman III missile, which was postponed for a day because air traffic control could not give a go with a clear airspace.

In situations such as this, large-scale temporary power plants could have provided the necessary electrical power that would last till the crisis was resolved. As in the foregoing scenario of a blackout owing to a human error or emergency causes, rental power stations will also prove beneficial in cases of power utility plant shutdowns, aviation power plant maintenance, airport power plant expansion, delayed construction of permanent power sources, load shedding or peak shaving.

Interim power stations are modular, flexible and cost-effective. They can be deployed from and to any point on Earth, owing to their compact and modular design, which gives no challenge in delivering them. Thanks to the cutting-edge technologies infused in most modern large-scale generators, they are flexible and are able to supply to the exact power requirement of the client. They are also cost-efficient, representing prices that are significantly lower than the projected losses and damages should aviation facilities stay without electricity.

With air transportation being a prime mover of goods and people in today’s world, air traffic control centers cannot afford to lose power for even a moment. The aviation industry can never be grounded, no matter what. Thanks to large-scale temporary power plant technologies, the continuation of aviation operations can be guaranteed.


Robert Bagatsing
Altaaqa Global
Tel: +971 56 1749505

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