Power outage temporarily grounds flights at South Florida airports

FAA reports 'power problem' at Miami Terminal Radar Approach Control

MIAMI – A "power problem" grounded flights Thursday at Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.

Local 10 News obtained the transmission between traffic controllers and pilots during the outage. 

"OK everybody on this frequency use extreme caution," a traffic controller is heard saying. "We've lost all communication, we've lost all radios, we cannot see you." 

"Everybody on this frequency use caution," said another traffic controller. "We cannot see you on the radar." 

A spokesman for MIA said that the power outage was minor and that only a handful of flights were grounded shortly before noon.

However, Bergen confirmed shortly after that the FAA issued a ground stop for all flights into MIA, FLL and South Florida satellite airports because of a power problem at the Miami Terminal Radar Approach Control.

"Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center has taken over the airspace normally handled by the TRACON and is safely handling flights that are in the airspace," Bergen said in a statement. 

Miami-Dade Aviation Department spokesman Greg Chin said shortly after 12:30 p.m. that the FAA was allowing some flights and departures at a limited pace. Bergen said all systems were restored shortly after 1 p.m.

"The facility is operating on generator power with commercial power available as a back-up," Bergen said. "We are investigating the source of the commercial power outage."

Florida Power & Light said on Twitter that the situation at the control center was "not related to FPL service." 

Stephen Lloyd, former safety director for the FAA, told Local 10 News that there are contingency plans in place for incidents like this.

"The problem with these kinds of outages is they do have redundancies, but more often than not, it does affect other pieces of equipment ... when the power does come back," Lloyd said.

Lloyd said flight information would have to be exchanged manually. He said it likely impacted other airports across the country.

Bergen said the Miami control center monitors flights from the Tampa and Orlando areas, as well as the Caribbean.

The total number of delayed flights was not immediately known.

Bergen said a problem with an uninterruptible power system (UPS) caused the outage. She said the UPS was repaired in the afternoon and power was only out for five minutes, from 11:24 a.m. to 11:29 a.m., before the generator was used.


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