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FAA center using backup generators

By The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS B An air traffic control center here has switched to backup generators in the wake of a power outage that resulted in at least two close encounters between aircraft. Diesel generators will be used until technicians determine and correct whatever caused the Oct. 31 power outage at the Federal Aviation Administration center, said FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro.

BWeBve isolated ourselves from the commercial power linkup until we determine if that is where the problems are,B he said Monday.

Controllers at the center remain on alert status as a precaution, said Ed Locke, president of the local office of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

The center, at Indianapolis International Airport, handles air traffic for parts of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia. The center, one of 20 in the nation, handled 2.64 million aircraft last year.

It is equipped with six diesel generators for emergency use. Only three are needed to power radar, communications and other operations, leaving three for backup use.

On Oct. 31, after the center lost power, electricity was restored two minutes later when the generators fired up. However, the centerBs main radar couldnBt be brought on line for two hours.

While backup flight and communications systems kicked in, that flight information isnBt precise and more than 70 controllers scrambled to hand off aircraft to other route centers.

The pilots of two planes B a private jet flying over Ohio and a USAir passenger plane flying over Southern Indiana B reported close calls with other planes.

Dozens of other flights were delayed because of the power failure.

-- Martin Thompson (, November 08, 2000

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