What We Can Learn from Atlanta's Power Outage

December 28, 2017

By Paula Bernier - Executive Editor, TMC

Did you hear about the recent power outage at the Atlanta airport?

You probably read about it, or saw it on the national news. But in case you were busy enjoying some nog or playing with your kids over the holidays, and you missed this news, let me bring you up to date.

There was a 10-plus hour power outage at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. It left would-be air travelers waiting in the dark for hours as they waited to get news on when flights would arrive and depart. And it led to the cancellation of 1,593 flights and the delay of 735 flights.

An electrical fire in a tunnel beneath the airport apparently caused the outage. Utility Georgia Power said it likely knocked out switch gear in the underground facility.

Stuff happens. And we do keep hearing about our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. So the fact that problems like this sometimes occur shouldn’t come as a complete surprise.

On the other hand, the fact that the nation’s largest airport had a power outage of this length and magnitude is both surprising and disturbing. I can’t image what it must’ve been like waiting in the dark in such a populated and public place, especially at a time in which public shootings and acts of terrorism frequently appear in U.S. headlines.

The risk, inconvenience, lost revenue – and in some cases, probably downright fear – that flyers, their families, the airlines, and vendors at the airport suffered as a result of this power outage illustrate the importance of having the necessary power protection infrastructure in place.

Much of our national infrastructure is sorely in need of modernization. And properly designed and installed power protection systems, which can mitigate damage to equipment, should be part of any modernization initiative.

Edited by Mandi Nowitz

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