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.