Blackout simulated at HK airport

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 October, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 October, 2004, 12:00am

A section of the passenger terminal is plunged into darkness

Hong Kong International Airport was once again plunged into darkness yesterday, but this time authorities were prepared for the power cut which shut down an entire section of the passenger terminal at 1.30am.

Within 90 seconds, power had been restored and the potential impact to passengers declared 'minimal'.

The simulated incident follows a series of glitches in recent months which left parts of Chek Lap Kok airport without lighting, baggage handling systems and air conditioning.

The Airport Authority staged the simulated breakdown yesterday to coincide with the announcement of a planned multi-million dollar power system upgrade in the next 12 months. But senior officials have refused to rule out further disruptions.

'It would be imprudent to make promises for 100 per cent availability with zero interruption,' said the authority's technical services and procurement head Wong Yiu-fai.

In the most alarming incident, which took place on June 10, a power cut delayed two flights, trapped at least three people in lifts, plunged more than half the passenger terminal into darkness and left shopkeepers and passengers without air conditioning for almost two hours.

Most of the changes announced yesterday are the result of a comprehensive review into the airport's power distribution system and emergency generator as part of a broader investigation by a taskforce.

Some of the new measures include an additional emergency generator, expected to cost about $20 million; improvements to the power supply control system; reconfiguring the air conditioning system; and some rewiring of the power distribution system.

The four-member taskforce, headed by Peter Wong King-keung, was set up by the Airport Authority board to review 17 systems including power and water supply, people and luggage movement, and building management.

Dr Wong said yesterday the remaining in-depth studies and reviews were progressing swiftly and smoothly.