July 18, 2006

Power outage grounds Los Angeles area flights

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A power outage late on Tuesday at a
regional FAA radar center halted most air traffic in the Los
Angeles area, officials said.

"All departing flights at LAX of at least 13,000 feet --
essentially all our flights -- have been grounded," said Nancy
Castles, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles International Airport
(LAX), the fifth busiest airport in the world.

A regional radar facility in Palmdale, about 50 miles (80
km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles, lost power, cutting
radar for Los Angeles area airports at 5:38 p.m. local time
(8:38 p.m. EDT, 0038 GMT Wednesday).

Some 75 departing flights at LAX had been affected up to
7:15 p.m. local time.

The Bob Hope Airport in Burbank also said it had halted its
flights, and airports in Orange County and Long Beach were also
reported to be affected by the outage.

There was no estimate of when the radar facility would
resume operations.

Once a jet takes off from a Los Angeles area airport, the
air traffic controllers "hand off" to the regional FAA radar in
Palmdale. With this hand off not possible, the flights were
grounded, Castles said.

Many incoming flights were also reported to be turning
back. One passenger from the San Francisco Bay Area said her
Los Angeles-bound flight returned to the Oakland airport.