Sunday, March 3, 2024

Power Surge Causes Chaos at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport

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Kenneth Kaunda International Airport faced a major disruption on Friday night due to a power surge, leading to a series of complications affecting the airport’s systems. Transport and Logistics Minister Frank Tayali provided insights into the incident, highlighting the impact on aero systems and subsequent delays.

According to Minister Tayali, the power failure, attributed to a surge, damaged various aero systems at the airport. Despite the systems having the capacity to detect low or high voltage, they failed to identify the surge, resulting in temporary runway light outages. An Emirates flight from Harare was among the affected, circling the Zambian skies for over two hours before the situation was resolved.

Minister Tayali emphasized that the power surge also caused damage to aero bridge number five, rendering it non-functional. The investigation by electricians from the Zambia Airports Corporation Limited is focused on understanding why the system failed to detect the power surge and prevent the equipment damage.

In response to the incident, efforts are underway to restore stable power to the runway. The Minister clarified that the decision to wait for the restoration was at the discretion of Emirates, suggesting they could have opted for the nearest airport in Ndola.

The power voltage complications that led to equipment damage were identified as a lack of voltage on one of the three phases of power cables to the main supply. Zesco, the electricity provider, resolved the single phasing issue at 19:50, but subsequent investigations found faulty electronic cards on the regulators, causing further delays.

The Minister reported that the fault was resolved temporarily around 21:40, with the electricians manually starting a local generator to light up the runway, excluding edge lights. Ongoing efforts are focused on restoring a permanent power supply to prevent future disruptions.

The incident, which occurred around 18:00 on January 26, 2024, has raised concerns about the airport’s ability to handle power surges and the need for comprehensive measures to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

15 COMMENTS

    • @Habeenzu. Imagine such incompetency. Ati “electricians manually starting a local generator to light up the runway”. It’s supposed to kick in instantly you m0r0ns!!!

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    • The problem was not in the primary power supply. The problem was in the secondary systems. There was no need to for reserve generators to come on. Furthermore, if Zesco power had disappeared from the earth shortly after the problem occurred, and the reserve generator taken over, the problem would still have continued. This issue has to be addressed by the people who supplied the airport systems. As an engineer, I can tell you that things like this happen in complex equipment. To those of you who know nothing about engineering, here is an article about how the failure of airport lights at one of the big Japanese airport caused the collision of to huge passenger planes in 2024: https://www.businessinsider.com/japan-jet-crash-runway-warning-lights-reportedly-werent-working-2024-1

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  1. Imagine an internation airport not having proper systems to detect and counter a surge or power outage. Not even contingency measures. NACL MD must be fired. After collecting millions in passenger fees, landing fees, parking fees, rentals from offices and businesses at the airport they still cant fund it to run it properly. And the minister instead of saying there will be an enquiry on who is to blame and thereafter heads will roll he is busy defending them. Maybe his head should roll instead.

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    • At the basis of engineering is the base understanding that all processes, whether natural or artificial, are governed by a gaussian distribution, therefore even when things are working extremely well, things eventually will go wrong and fail. This is why the Space Shuttles of the US exploded both on take off, and upon descent to earth. Engineering is not a perfect science. It is a sensationally successful science, but we have not, and will never be able to make failsafe machines.

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    • @Razor. It’s complete incompetence!!! We know the NACL MD will not be fired due to the political nature of that appointment. For KKIA to be certified as an international airport it must have passed all the stringent requirements/standards required by IATA…but some people have their thumbs up their back sides and not doing their work, including the Minister, PS’, and directors, and should immediately be fired. But again we know their boss is equally incompetent and doesn’t have the nuts to take such an important decision. SMH

    • I’m not going to defend or blame anyone, but equipment failure still happens in this world. What’s happening to Boeing planes if you have been watching international news channels? Trouble is we see politics in everything. Christian nation? Gimme a break!

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  2. In a normal country we should have a public inquiry followed by sanctions against whoever dropped the ball should that be the case. From this article and the way the minister has been quoted, it will actually take international standards demands for the inquiry to be carried out. Zambia is like a dumpster. This is why DSTv goes off when there are rains, and some phone networks play up … you will not see this sort of incompetence where these companies are headquartered.

  3. This happens all over the World even here in the USA….but they need automatic backup Generators….justbl like they have in Hospitals ICU,Mortuary etc

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  4. Most probably the backup equipment is never checked to ensure they are in good working condition. Routine checks should be done on a daily basis and recorded with or without power failure.

  5. It was built by Chinese and everything the Chinese make is substandard , and never lasts long, the only thing that lasted long made by Chinese was Covid 19 !!!
    It must have cost a fortune in fuel for Emirates to fly in circles for 2 hours, wonder who pays for that?

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