FAA probes failure of control center’s backup generator
PALMDALE – Federal Aviation Administration officials are investigating why a backup power system failed at the air-traffic control center that directs jetliners flying in and out of Southern California after a vehicle crash knocked down a high-power line in Palmdale. Disrupting hundreds of flights and delaying thousands of travelers across North America, the outage that shut down radar and communications systems at the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center in Palmdale occurred while the center was operating on backup generators that started automatically after a vehicle knocked down a utility pole four miles away. “We believe it was the switching system. We’re not sure. It’s under investigation,” Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Mike Fergus said. In the three hours it took Tuesday night to get the control center functioning normally again, nearly 350 flights nationwide were delayed, 49 were canceled, and 102 were diverted, many to Las Vegas, Fergus said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2Controllers were told that the center’s backup generators functioned but that some problem occurred with the electrical system that connects the generators to the center, said Bruce Bates, a controllers union leader at the Palmdale center. “We were on backup power at the time of the outage,” he said. Electricity had been knocked out briefly to a wide area of Palmdale about 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, when a speeding pickup truck ran a red light at Avenue O-8 and 10th Street West and hit a utility pole, severing it at its base, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies said. Power came back on after about 30 seconds, though electricity remained off in the community of Green Valley 15 miles away for about 40 minutes, Southern California Edison spokesman Alis Clausen said. For about 25 minutes starting around 6:15 p.m., Edison workers turned off a distribution line, serving more than 1,000 homes and businesses, to make repairs. The line doesn’t serve the FAA center, Clausen said. The FAA said its backup power system came on after the initial brief outage and failed at 5:35 p.m., knocking out radar and communication systems. Other traffic control centers, including ones in Oakland, San Diego County, Salt Lake City and Albuquerque, took over the job of directing airliners. Planes about to depart for Los Angeles were held on the ground, Fergus said. The backup power resumed at the Palmdale center about 7:30 p.m., and it took an additional hour to get the center functioning normally, Fergus said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!