Solomons Henderson Airport Hit By Power Outage

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Generator fuel shortage led to security, safety concerns

By Daniel Namosuaia

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, June 12, 2013) – Power failure at the Henderson International Airport in the Solomon Islands yesterday afternoon put the lives of travelling public at great risk.

An officer there said the airport’s standby generator ran out of fuel, affecting vital services and the operation of the airport.

He said the services of the meteorological office and that from the airport terminals were also affected causing a security and safety risk for travelling passengers.

"These are important services that must not be affected just because of carelessness and ignorance from those responsible to ensure standby generators are fuelled and ready to power the airport in times of power outage," the officer told the Solomon Star. The officer, who asked not to be named, said the government would be liable for any accidents that such situation may have caused.

"Security and safety of passengers are important and if security machines like the security scanners and important meteorological information were not given to incoming flights, it would cost lives and cause great embarrassment for the country.

"Luckily there was no flight arriving or departing at the time of the power problem. Otherwise it could cause some security threats to passengers. And we can’t just take this lightly," the officer said.

The situation was reported to Solomon Islands Electricity Authority and power was restored immediately.

Director of Civil Aviation George Satu said the continuous power outage is affecting their equipment and would affect their life span.

He said though critical services from the control tower and runway are not affected, the power outage could cost them a lot of money if there are problems encountered with their state of the art equipment.

Mr. Satu said even if power is out and their standby generator is not working, they will rely on dry cell batteries that can only last them eight hours.

But he cautioned that it is important for SIEA to notify them in advance so that they prepare for any power blackout.

"Otherwise security and safety of passengers are at great risk," he added.

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