July 18, 2006

California flights resume after radar power restored

By Bernie Woodall

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A power outage late on Tuesday at a
regional FAA radar center halted most air traffic in Southern
California for two hours, but back-up power had allowed flights
to resume, officials said.

The radar facility in Palmdale, about 50 miles northwest of
downtown Los Angeles, lost power, cutting radar for Southern
California airports, including San Diego, at 5:38 p.m. local
time (8:38 p.m. EDT Wednesday).

"The cause (of the power outage) is under investigation,"
said Allen Kenitzer, regional spokesman of the Federal Aviation
Administration. Back-up power was restored at 6:51 p.m., he

A spokesman for the Southern California Edison utility said
that a car hit a utility pole in Palmdale and might have caused
the radar center's generator to react in a way that disrupted

At least 130 flights at Los Angeles International Airport
(LAX), the fifth busiest in the world, had been affected,
including 90 scheduled for departure, the airport said.

The outage grounded flights from nearly all Southern
California airports, from as far north as San Luis Obispo to
the Mexican Border, including San Diego, Palm Springs, Van
Nuys, Orange County, Oxnard, Burbank and Ontario. A Las Vegas
airport was also affected.

Flights at LAX are expected to normalize during the night,
said spokeswoman Nancy Castles.

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

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

In New York, power outages due to equipment problems also
disrupted air traffic at LaGuardia airport.