A massive power outage at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport disrupted operations Sunday, starting at about 1 p.m. local time. As a result, Delta alone had to handle 1,400 cancellations. Power had been restored for all essential airport activities — including all concourses and flight operations — as of 11:45 p.m. the same day. The FAA said via Twitter that it expects everything to be back to normal by midday Monday.
Georgia Power said Monday it was still evaluating the incident, but it believes a piece of its switchgear located in an underground electrical facility could have failed and started a fire, causing the outage. This fire was located adjacent to redundant circuit cables and switching mechanisms serving the airport and those cables were damaged, Georgia Power said, resulting in the outage and loss of redundant service methods.
“The fire was safely extinguished by fire crews before Georgia Power could enter the area to assess damage and begin repairs. In addition to the fire, responding crews faced hazardous fumes and smoke, which had to fully clear prior to beginning restoration work,” Georgia Power said. “The event impacted not only the underground facilities, but also substations serving the Airport and, while the cause is not yet known, Georgia Power's system responded properly by isolating areas where equipment wasn't operating correctly to ensure safety and minimize damage. No personnel or passengers were in danger at any time.”
Georgia Power added that the many redundant systems and sources of power it puts in place makes outages like these “very rare.” It plans to continue working with the airport to address any impacts in non-essential areas, determine the cause of the incident and prevent it from happening again.