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One generator set at NAIA-3 failed —DOTC chief

A drained generator set probably due to poor maintenance was one of the reasons of the five-hour power outage at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA-3) that left hundreds of passengers stranded.

"Sabi niya may na-drain [na battery]. Hindi nagkick-in ang isang genset (generator set) natin. May drainage sa battery power... Hindi nag-transmit ng power sa building (NAIA-3) mismo," Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya told Super Radyo dzBB Sunday morning, referring to Octavio Lina, manager of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.

Abaya said Terminal 3  has 10 generator sets. Nine units were operational at the time of the outage.

"Batteries ang pinapaliwanag sa atin kung bakit hindi nagkick-in to switch gears," he added.

Abaya said that there is a possibility that the generators were not properly maintained.

"I have to check... Tinitingnan natin if it was fully drained, there was no charging prior to this, it was charged but did not switch...," he said, enumerating possible reasons why the generators failed.

He said airport officials also failed to immediately determine the real cause of the power outage because their priority was to restore power so that operations would resume.

The power outage at the NAIA-3 happened at past 8 a.m. Power was fully restored at past 2 a.m., Abaya said.

NAIA-3's operations were fully restored before noon Sunday, based on an advisory by the Manila International Airport Authority on its Facebook account.

The MIAA said the power outage at the NAIA-3 happened after a substation of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) at around 8:45 p.m. Saturday.

Meralco, meanwhile, said that the glitch was restored in less than a minute.

It said that the five-hour power outage could have been caused by "trouble on the customer's loadside."

More than 100 flights were canceled and delayed following the power outage.

Heads will roll?

Asked if "heads will roll" over the rare power outage, Abaya said their priority was to restore the operations of the NAIA-3.

"Alamin natin kung ano ang tunay na dahilan para hindi maulit muli... Ang 'heads will roll' madali na po iyan," he said.

Meanwhile, Abaya said that he will order the inspection of all generator sets at the NAIA and other =airport nationwide.

“If the problem is maintenance, then we have to check not only in Manila but dapat tingnan muli ang  maintenance procedures ng airports nationwide,” he said.

Security and safety

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) spokesman Eric Apolonio, meanwhile, said procedures are in place for similar emergencies to assure the safety of passengers.

Apolinio said the airlines were immediately informed of the situation through their communications tower.

“Kapag nagkaroon ng power glitch, automatic po ‘yan na advised ang mga airline na umikot, to go on hold muna,” he said.

Apolinio explained that the separation time between the arriving and departing airplanes from airlines had to be prolonged.

A report by the Philippine News Agency said some flights that were supposed to land on the NAIA-3 were diverted to the other NAIA terminals (1, 2 and 4) that were not affected by the outage.

Apolinio assured no violations of the safety procedures were committed during the power outage.

“Inspite na kulang ang power sa nasabing terminal ay nakalapag naman at nakaalis ang mga airlines although medyo na-delay,” he said.

He also reminded the passengers of the cancelled and delayed flights of their claims as prescribed by the Air Passenger Bill of Rights.

“Protektado naman ang mga pasahero diyan. Kaya wala po silang dapat ipag-alala. Ang mga airlines po ay i-a-assist sila,” he said.

Meanwhile, Apolonio said standby generators would naturally fail in case a whole terminal is hit by a blackout.

“Kapag standby gensets talaga ang ginagamit, medyo mahina talaga ang binibigay na kuryente at apektado ang security screening. Ang NAIA ang laki-laki niyan, malaki ang equipment,” he said. —Kiersnerr Gerwin Tacadena/ALG, GMA News