Originally created 02/22/06

Line cut cancels power to airport



Oops.

It lasted only a few hours, but part of Augusta Regional Airport's power went "bu-bye" Tuesday when crews working on the new terminal accidentally cut an electrical line at the Bush Field facility.

The problem didn't end there.

According to Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen, the air traffic control tower's phone lines are tied into the electrical lines, so the outage was a double whammy.

Without phone contact, air traffic controllers essentially lost control - and all outside communication.

No flights were delayed or grounded, but controllers had to hand over Augusta's air space to the Air Traffic Control Center in Hampton, Ga.

It's a transfer of power that happens every night when the airport's tower closes, Ms. Bergen said.

"Luckily we have contingency plans," Ms. Bergen said.

And cell phones, which were used to alert the center to the problem.

By 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, the tower's hang-ups were over. Not so in the administrative and rental car offices, airport marketing director Diane Johnston said.

"It just so happened that Georgia Power was on the field doing other work, so they were able to restore power quickly," she said. "When the power first went out, it affected only part of the administrative offices. But when they repaired the line, everything from the rental cars south went out."

A second round of repairs fixed it all, Ms. Johnston said from her phone.

Reach Dena Levitz at (706) 823-3339 or dena.levitz@augustachronicle.com.