Preventive maintenance in airports could reduce power outages

Dec 27, 2017

Kelly Potter

Kelly Potter

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Delta Airlines lost between $25 million-$50 million in revenue because of last Sunday’s power outage at Atlanta’s Hartfield-Jackson International Airport, a representative told Business Insider.

The representative said the airline would talk to the Hartsfield-Jackson and Georgia Power electric company that provides power to the airport about compensation for their losses.

The airline had to cancel over 1,400 flights last Sunday and Monday after a fire in an underground electrical facility caused the airport to lose power for 11 hours. Last Tuesday, Delta resumed normal operations in Atlanta.

The electrical fire in a tunnel beneath the airport crippled both the main power system and its backup. Experts reported that the broader issue is that America’s airports don’t seem to be prepared for such events.

Georgia Power said in a statement Monday a piece of Georgia Power switchgear in an underground electrical facility could have failed and started a fire. Because the fire was in a tunnel adjacent to the backup cables, the fail-safe system was knocked out, too.

Workers had to wait 1-2 hours to enter the tunnel and start repairs due to safety concerns. This power outage isn’t the only thing Atlanta has experienced this year in terms of shutdowns.

From bad weather to computer issues to the power outage, airlines have been repeatedly hit with shutdowns, exposing a number of vulnerabilities in the process.

A professor at the University of Pennsylvania who studies airport infrastructure planning mentioned, airport outages seem to be happening more and more, for a number of reasons, but planning for these outages is not prioritized. It’s something I think requires a lot of focus.

All infrastructures should have a preventive maintenance plan in place, especially in cases like power shortages where it affects thousands of people and costing companies thousands and thousands of dollars. A preventive maintenance plan can help prevent these issues from occurring and/or alleviate the stress of figuring out what went wrong and how to prevent these issues from happening in the future.

Airport Work Management

Airport by nature are spread out over vast areas of land that require an organized maintenance plan in order to obtain labor efficiency. A CMMS will help airport management to know where all their airport assets are and the condition they are in. A CMMS can also help streamline maintenance operations to be more efficient lowering labor costs.

An Airport CMMS database can help create a checklist that includes the following:

  • Location of each asset
  • Detailed description of each asset
  • Vendor information
  • Contracts, blueprints, and other documentation
  • A complete maintenance record

As each work order is completed it is added to the database. Management reports can identify maintenance trends, asset history, and projected replacement or retirement timeframes. These types of tests can help airports, like Atlanta, spot issues ahead of time eliminating downtime.

CMMS software enables airport management to be more proactive reducing reactive unplanned maintenance and repairs and saving the infrastructure unplanned money spending and loss of money.

Kelly Potter

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