BWI airport had backup generators for Monday's power outage - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Nov. 25, 2014 12:39 pm

BWI airport had backup generators for Monday’s power outage

Monday's two-hour power outage was too short to move the big backup generators in place to control the entire airport, but there were emergency generators that supported vital functions.

BWI airport.

(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The busiest travel week of the year began with a power outage at BWI on Monday. The two-hour power outage at the Baltimore-Washington International/Thurgood Marshall Airport terminal added delays and stress to the already hectic travel week.

Power went out around 10:20 a.m. at the airport’s A, B and C concourses. That brought ticketing and security screening to a halt in the terminal. On the runway, travelers were also stuck on planes because they needed power to open the doors. Even after power came back on around 12:30 p.m., delays continued throughout the day.

The cause of the power outage was traced to a failed underground electrical cable in the airfield, BWI spokesman Jonathan Dean said in an email response to Technical.ly Baltimore. Repairs were completed on the cable on Monday night.

Most people at the airport were probably just looking to get on (or off) their flight. But as they had more time to think and take to social media (as people are want to do), some started to ask another question about the airport’s infrastructure: Shouldn’t there be a generator for situations like this?

The answer is yes.

According to Dean, backup power came on in the terminal during the outage.

“This power is used for emergency lighting, egress lighting, and basic safety and security functions,” he said. The emergency system isn’t designed to power the entire airport. However, the airport has additional generators, but they take time to set up.

“Those are large generators that need to be positioned during an outage,” Dean said. “We were in the process of putting a large generator in place when the power was restored yesterday morning. That generator was positioned to provide emergency backup power, if needed, during the repairs yesterday.”

But in this case, the backup wasn’t needed. By Monday afternoon at 3:15 p.m., lines were looking clear. The airport even retweeted a customer partaking in that rarest of Thanksgiving week rituals: thanking an airline.

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