Ripple Effect

Delta now says shutdown was caused by failed switchgear

Delta Airlines’ day of chaos three weeks ago was bad for everyone involved: passengers, flight attendants, Delta corporate members, TSA officials, the National Security department…probably even a few German shepherds. But what caused the massive outage that led to 72 hours worth of cancellations and delays? Delta said an electricity short-circuit at first. Now the company is blaming its switchgear.

Delta passengers wait in line for flight changes on August 8th, 2016.

Delta passengers wait in line for flight changes on August 8th, 2016.

Local utility Georgia Power says the failure was caused by failed switchgear at its Atlanta data center which connected Delta’s computers to the power grid and to the company’s backup generators, according to Bob Mann, a former airline executive who is now an aviation consultant. He says this was a rare malfunction with a part that is usually reliable. “They had Georgia Power available at the site,” Mann says. “They had their own generators and batteries available at the site. But the automated transfer switch seems to have failed in a way that allowed them to use neither of those systems.” Airlines are more vulnerable to such failures due to their increased security.

In better news for the switchgear sector, Siemens is supplying two gas-insulated high-voltage switchgear (GIS) systems for the Rogun hydropower plant in Tajikistan. The power plant is part of the Rogun Dam project, which, with a dam at a height of 335 meters (1,099 feet), will be the highest in the world.

The current Rogun Dam in Tajikistan.

The current Rogun Dam in Tajikistan.

The 8DQ1 switchgear, covering a voltage range of up to 550 kV by way of 21 circuit breakers, and the 8DN9, covering up to 220 kV with four circuit breakers, will protect the power generation and transmission systems in the hydropower station against short circuits and overloading. The switchgear is expected to be fully installed and ready for operation by 2018, the company said in a press release August 18. The Rogun Dam will stand on the river Vakhsh, about 100 kilometers north-east of Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe. It will be upriver from the Nurek Dam, which is currently the world’s highest at 300 meters. A hydropower station with a generating capacity of 3600 megawatts (MW) is planned for the Rogun Dam, with generation provided by six 600 MW turbines. This will enable 13.3 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity to be generated annually, supplying power to large areas of Central Asia. When fully completed, it will be one of the largest hydropower stations in the world.

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