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Wed, Jul 19, 2006

Power Outage Grounds Flights In SoCal

The Night The Lights Went Out In L.A.

Were you stuck on the ground Tuesday evening, unable to depart from a California airport? If so, you weren't alone... as a power outage at the FAA's Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center in Palmdale meant nearly all air traffic around Los Angeles -- and as far away as the San Francisco Bay Area -- was grounded for as much as 90 minutes.

"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), to Reuters. That worked out to 221 flights... with as many as 25,000 grumbling passengers, she added.

Power was restored when the center's backup generator kicked in shortly before 7 p.m., said FAA regional spokesman Allen Kenitzer to the Associated Press.

Some flights that had taken off before the outage had to turn around and land, as the outage meant their flights couldn't be handed off to controllers handling planes through Los Angeles airspace. Flights already on the ground stayed there... forcing many passengers to deal with cancelled flights, as room on other planes wasn't immediately available.

The agency is now investigating not only why the power went out at the ARTCC in the first place -- but also why it took an hour and a half for the backup system to kick into gear.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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