Airport to spend $82,000 on emergency lighting system after recent outage

Bob Hope Airport is taking a two-path approach to preventing another outage like the one on Nov. 28 that took out operations on its longest runway.

The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority on Monday voted to buy an emergency lighting system while officials complete a multimillion-dollar proposal to replace the dated wiring system that caused the outage.

“That outage, frankly, was not to the standard that we offer to the traveling public ... it creates havoc for those customers that couldn’t fly out of here at night,” said Dan Feger, the airport’s executive director.

The cause of the outage was the normal deterioration of the high-voltage connectors attaching each runway light to the single-wire circuit for the runway, Feger said. The connectors were installed more than 30 years ago.

Feger said airport officials were putting together a bid proposal for contractors and have a design completed in time to start construction this summer.

The project’s total cost would be close to $3 million, and would likely be completed by the end of the year, according to Feger.

The authority intends to ask the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to use funds raised by the passenger facility charge — a $4.50 fee attached to every departure ticket at the airport — to pay for the project.

In the meantime, the airport will be getting an emergency lighting system to use in case of any future failure, whether from faulty equipment or something more drastic, officials said.

“We’ve done a lot of work on emergency response here at the airport — how to operate the airport after either some natural disaster or even a human-caused problem,” said Denis Carvill, the airport’s director of contractors and properties.

In an emergency, Carvill said the airport could use the emergency lighting system to set up a helicopter landing area, as well as light any one of its runways.

The airport authority unanimously voted to spend $82,610 in reserves to buy the emergency lighting system.

Commissioner Susan Georgino said that until the new runway lighting infrastructure is completed, paying for the emergency system was a small price to pay to prevent another outage.

“I know personally $82,000 is not a small amount, but compared to a $3-million investment, it seems like a small amount to ensure this capacity,” she said.

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