Airport Business

APR 2018

The airport professional's source for airport industry news, articles, events, and careers.

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TERMINAL LIGHTING By Russ Sharer What Do You Do When the Lights Come Back On? In the wake of Atlanta's massive power failure, consider what you need to do to protect your airport. Have you ever felt the panic of being suddenly engulfed in darkness in a public place? It's one of the worst nightmares any airport can experience, especially when caused by a massive power outage. When the lights go out, air traffic halts, ticketing stops, everybody loses money and passengers get upset. The costs add up quickly for air carriers and the airport, not to mention potential safety issues that arise when you have masses of people stuck in the dark. Consider the power outage at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta in December. Electricity throughout the airport was lost on a busy pre-holiday Sunday, grounding air traffic, creating a ripple of delays across North America. The outage lasted nearly 11 hours, caused by an electrical fire in a tunnel under the airport that crippled both the main power system and its backup. Such a power outage becomes expensive in any number of ways. For example, airlines can accrue fines up to $275,500 per passenger for any domestic flight stuck on the tarmac for more than three hours. Delta Air Lines alone estimated that the December power outage cost them $50 million. Unfortunately, these things happen and they seem to be happening more often. Earlier this year the Consumer Electronics Show was disrupted when the power in the Las Vegas Convention Center failed for two hours. Clearly, any airport can lose power at any time and it's up to airport management to be prepared for the worst, especially when it comes to passenger safety. So, what can we learn from the power outage at Hartsfield-Jackson? And how can we better prepare for future outages? PLAN FOR THE WORST Every airport needs to have built-in power redundancy. Although Hartsfield-Jackson did have alternative power in place, the fact that the backup system was adjacent to the main power system created a single point of failure for both primary and backup electricity. Other airports are designed to address this problem. Chicago O'Hare International Airport, for example, is serviced by multiple substations, thus reducing the chances of a total power failure. Having physically distributed backup power systems functioning as isolated units minimizes risk of an outage from a single point of failure. Of course, these systems need to be routinely checked to ensure correct operation. It's also important to have an emergency plan in place to deal with a power outage, including well-documented procedures and regular staff training. When the power systems fail, airport personnel need to know how to respond to promote passenger safety. Typically that means one of two options: have a plan of egress to provide sufficient light to get people out of the building, or provide a strategy to shelter in place. In either case, you need to have backup lighting in the event of an emergency. The challenge is that many airport emergency systems, including lighting, are aging and out of date. For decades, emergency lighting has relied on standalone exit signs and emergency lights often powered by centralized batteries. However, as safety regulations have Fulham Co. Inc. 20 airportbusiness April 2018

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