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Power project at Thunder Bay Airport reduces outage risk

Automated backup system has already been used four times.
Thunder Bay airport terminal

THUNDER BAY — Officials say a $300,000 project to improve the reliability of the power supply at Thunder Bay Airport is proving its worth.

The airport, NAV CANADA and Thunder Bay Hydro worked together earlier this year to establish an automatic transfer system which included "smart" switches that automatically reroute power to the airport from alternative feeders in the event of an unexpected outage.

Since the installation this spring, the system has been activated four times.

"The result has been no flight delays or cancellations, no processing stoppages and passengers who barely even noticed the power transition," the three organizations said in a joint statement Wednesday.

NAV CANADA is a private, not-for-profit company that provides air traffic control and related services within Canadian domestic and international airspace.

The high-speed power transfer system determines where alternative power is available, and reroutes it within half a second when the airport's usual supply fails.

"Our back-up generator capacity can only power a small portion of our needs. The new system virtually eliminates power outages," said airport CEO Ed Schmidtke.