‘Fault current” blamed for NAIA Terminal 3 power outage on Labor Day


Published May 1, 2023 4:45pm

Authorities identified a “fault current” as the cause of the power outage at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 on Labor Day, but an investigation is still ongoing to determine the root of the issue which impacted some 9,000 passengers.

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Cesar Chiong said the power outage — reported at past 1 a.m. on Monday — affected mostly domestic passengers in 24 flights, with some international flights delayed.

“On behalf of the MIAA management, we really would like to extend our apologies to all the passengers… and everyone that were affected by this power interruption,” he said in a virtual briefing on Monday.

“We really would like to thank all of our airline operators because they made sure that the impact to the operations and the power interruptions were really minimized and in fact, it was confined to domestic flights,” he said.

Chiong said that the 9,000 affected passengers were equivalent to 7% of the total number of passengers who usually travel through the NAIA Terminal 3, while the 24 roundtrip flights cancelled translates to 6.5% of the 750 to 760 flights operated.

Operations were back to normal as of 8:46 a.m., but authorities continued to investigate the root cause of the power outage, with a full electrical audit on the terminal now being recommended.

Meanwhile, Super Radyo dzBB reported two brief power outages at Terminal 3 on Monday afternoon.

A traveler told dzBB’s Ralph Obina that the first of the afternoon outages was at around 1 p.m. It lasted less than 10 minutes.

The second outage was at around 3:45 p.m. It lasted about 25 to 30 minutes.

‘Fault current’

According to Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) Manager Engineer Noel Espiritu, the power went out as the circuit breaker was tripped due to a temporary overflow of the current, as he cited a “fault current.”

The fault current was said to have activated the fault indicator, which then tripped the circuit breaker to prevent the current overflow from damaging the airport’s system. Technical teams are now looking further into the possible cause.

Espiritu said the Meralco team also had to change a system component which was stressed due to the high current.

“Meron kaming nakitang isang component na pinalitan, so ‘yun po ay because of the current, dadaan sa component, at eventually na-stress ‘yung component. Napalitan naman po namin kaagad and na-restore po namin kaagad ‘yung power,” he said.

“Kung paano po nada-damage, kung siya po ay dinaanan ng fault current kasi high amount of current… ‘Yun po ‘yun nakita namin kanina after the outage,” he added.

(We saw a component that needed to be changed, and that was because of the current that passed through the component, stressing it. We immediately changed it and restored the power.)

As to how it was damaged, this happens when a fault current passes through it – this high amount of current. That is what we saw after the outage.)

Meralco Relationship Manager for the national government Aquilino Santiago III explained that had the circuit breaker not worked, this could have led to an explosion, and even the firm’s substation would have been affected.

Electrical audit

For his part, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said authorities would continue to investigate the incident, as they had already sought help from the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) to investigate the matter.

“Hindi natin dini-discount din ‘yan (sabotage), and Meralco will also siguro help us assess kung talagang merong sabotage or not, kaya nga dapat pag-aralan nating mabuti lahat ‘yan,” he said.

(We are discounting sabotage, and Meralco, maybe, will also help us assess if there really was sabotage. That is why we really need to study this thoroughly).

The secretary is also calling for a full electrical audit of the terminal. He said the last audit was in 2017, and not all of the audit’s recommendations were implemented.

“Since then, lumaki nang lumaki (there has been a growth in the) capacity ng (of) Terminal 3 kaya ang (which is why their) recommendation nila, it’s about time we do a full electrical audit of Terminal 3,” he said.

The latest mishap comes after at least 282 flights at NAIA were canceled, diverted, or delayed on New Year’s Day, affecting some 56,000 passengers, due to an outdated system.

Just last week, a group of six Filipino conglomerates and US-based Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) formed the Manila international Airport Consortium (MIAC) and submitted an unsolicited proposal to upgrade the NAIA through a public-private partnership (PPP). — DVM, GMA Integrated News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *