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ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

(OP)
The Atlanta Airport suffered a 11 hour power outage affecting nearly all flights across the eastern seaboard Sunday afternoon and evening as traffic backed up not only at ATL, but at all airports feeding ATL, and all airports which had flights scheduled to depart using planes that should have left ATL.

Cause is not being discussed locally by the very close-mouthed airport officials to any local news media, but available information is that a single fire in an underground service area under the airport burned out the primary transformers (or switches and controllers to the primary transformers), but also burned either the backup transformer itself, or the switch gear allowing the backup power to be routed to alternate switchboards around the destroyed panels to backup terminal, flightline, and control stations. Fire response was reported confused, slow, and not effective this afternoon (Monday). (This was not an airplane or flightline fire, it is not clear if anyone other than the "regular" Atlanta city fire dept was called out. )

RE: ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

"Lets route our primary and backup through the same tunnel, with all switchgear in the same vault, and not have any onsite generator capacity", recipe for disaster but I am sure that it saved someone money.
The guys that signed off on this are hoping that they are now at different jobs.

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P.E. Metallurgy, Plymouth Tube

RE: ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

Well, that kind of thinking is called "Value Engineering" at some firms !!! And, lets not forget that the client typically has his say so in many major projects. I put my money on this being a "client improvement" forced on the design firm.

On thing for sure, the author of this spectacularly bad choice ....... had an MBA !

MJCronin
Sr. Process Engineer

RE: ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

Considering that the DC-10 had a similar issue with routing all its hydraulic lines through the tail section, which, one time, was hit and taken out by damaged fan rotor, I would say that this is a pretty common thing to get wrong.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

I recall a major communications network putting both of a pair of redundant cables under a bridge where they were roasted by a homeless guy keeping a bit too warm, for 'reasons.'

I would not be surprised if the original proposal was to separate a hot backup system far from the primary, but someone looked at the additional cost and decided it was worth it to their bonus to be worth the risk to everyone else.

I wonder if companies will install more longwave/thermal IR camera in such places to detect when things are heading south before they fall over and isolate the cause.

Most amazing was the apparent lack of emergency lighting through the airport and the lack of an evacuation plan.

RE: ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

Dave ,
Was that in the same city?
B.E.

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

RE: ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

Our local airport has "redundant power". It failed once, and then failed again when an aircraft making a "hard landing" clipped a set of power lines along a nearby road.

Redundancy is hard.

RE: ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

I'm flying through there on Friday, hoping for a better outcome.

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The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn't included in this version of Windows.

RE: ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

(OP)
Apparently, loss of power to ALL systems was so bad, or backup and independent power to even basic systems so terrible - that the announcement system (loudspeaker system) had no power. There was no way for ANY announcements to be made about ANY conditions. Would have been fatal if any secondary fire (terror incident, robbery, theft, pick-pocketing incident, heart attack, or evacuation) would have been needed in ANY area of the terminals, underground tunnels, train connection stations, or service areas.

No secondary or backup plan to use airplane maintenance roll-up ladders to evacuate the passengers trapped in the airplanes out on the taxiways and runways. People in the planes could have been walked safely to the airport (Delta and UPS) hangers nearby.

RE: ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

I have seen the systems at some airports, and they are routed in from different directions, through different tunnels, and have multiple switch-over gear.
As always, doing correctly costs money.
Which you would think that a very large airport would grasp.
What did this cost Delta? $200mil? and the airport lost a lot also.

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P.E. Metallurgy, Plymouth Tube

RE: ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

Just tried to call Delta and the automated answering system said the waiting time is over 2 hours.

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The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn't included in this version of Windows.

RE: ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

This link at least has some details on the incident.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/12/18/atl...

It looks like it was distribution level equipment that was involved, probably 25 kV - if I remember what Georgia Power uses.

Bowers at Georgia Power told ABC’s Good Morning America that seven power cables supply the airport from two sources through the single tunnel. The failed switchgear sits on the bottom of the tunnel and damaged all the cables, he said.

A single tunnel - that suggests what a Monday morning quarterback could say - that is your problem!

I'm sure the airport folks (via their consultant) and the Georgia Power folks had previous discussions on this before the design was approved.

RE: ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

When they reinstall, this time they'll put the cables on opposite sides of the same tunnel... you know, for redundancy wink

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

Around here- that would not fly for a critical facility.

RE: ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

Sounds like very little was flying there, either wink

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

Running through one tunnel is mind boggling, really. As others point out, the designers involved aren't grasping the idea of redundancy.

One article I saw did list the load at 35MVA. Clearly they don't have a single MV/LV transformer. What I'm used to seeing where there is any concern for redundancy are double ended LV substations with a main-tie-main and redundant feeds for the MV side. There are two or more MV switchgear rooms, widely separated and fed from different directions. That way there is no single ATS to fail, no single switchgear to fail, etc. that could have wide impact.

RE: ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

(OP)
Well, it appears even worse that "running through just one tunnel" scenario: As I understand it, the airport had just source of power running through that one tunnel to one room underground, and the backup power was connected (or controlled) from just one enclosure in that one room. The single point fire put out both primary AND backup power to the entire airport, and NO alternate power was provided to ANY of the 8 terminals for ANY other services.

RE: ATL (Atlanta) 1 Switchboard Fire + 1 Burned Backup = 11 Hour Power Outage in World's Businest Airp

It's worth pointing out that the control tower and all critical services for landing were unaffected from my understanding.

Professional Engineer (ME, NH, MA) Structural Engineer (IL)
American Concrete Industries
https://www.facebook.com/AmericanConcrete/

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