Loss of power causes evacuation of building, planes diverted
Members of the Gander Volunteer Fire Department, as well as NAV Canada employees, are seen outside the NAV Canada building in Gander Thursday morning. — Photo by Matt Mollo/The Beacon
GANDER — An electrical fire at the air traffic control centre in Gander Thursday morning caused the evacuation of personnel and the diverting of airplanes to the control of other air traffic control centres.
The electrical malfunction occurred about 9:15 am. and caused equipment to fail.
Michelle Bishop, spokesperson with Nav Canada, said members of the Gander Volunteer Fire Department were called to the scene, and were met with a smoke-filled power supply room when they entered the building.
Bishop said employees were safely evacuated and there were no injuries.
“The situation is under control,” Bishop told The Beacon, a Transcontinental weekly newspaper in Gander.
“With the assistance of the local fire department, controllers were back in the building about 40 minutes later, and were able to resume control of traffic in the airspace on backup frequencies.”
Controllers reportedly saw their radar screens go blank following the loss of power, and roughly 200 pilots were advised to maintain their assigned altitude and speed, and switch to alternative radio frequencies used by the air traffic control centre in Moncton, N.B.
According to Bishop, the Gander Area Control Center controls aircraft over Newfoundland and Labrador, and also the oceanic traffic in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean.