Various items caused the electric current of the runway lights at Myrtle Beach International Airport to go out Tuesday night causing flight delays and cancellations.
“It was just different items that caused the current to be impacted,” said Kirk Lovell, assistant director of the Horry County Department of Airports. “There’s not really any one specific item. It was just a combination of things that go along when there’s heavy use and changing the lighting at the airport. There’s been a lot of work. It’s not necessarily related to construction and it’s not related to any one specific thing.”
Lovell did not specify the items that led to the outage. He said he was unsure whether a report would be made to the Federal Aviation Administration. Arlene Salac, a spokeswoman for the FAA, said she would look into whether a report needs to be filed with runway light failure.
Flights in and out of Myrtle Beach International Airport were suspended and canceled Tuesday night for a little more than an hour after lights on the lone runway stopped working.
U.S. Airways canceled as many as two flights, Delta canceled its Atlanta flight, and Spirit Airlines had a flight waiting in LaGuardia and was holding a flight at Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. — a layover to Boston.
The airport is going through a nearly $20 million runway rehabilitation project.
Set up for the project began in August and runs through March 31. Crews from Ohio-based Anthony Allega Cement Contractor will be working overnight to rehabilitate Myrtle Beach’s lone 9,500 foot runway.
Crews are currently in the paving portion of the project. The runway is being paved between 10:45 p.m. and 6:45 a.m. during the week and 11:45 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. during the weekend. From November through the end of March, the runway edge lighting system will be replaced, the pavement will be grooved and permanently marked and grass and mulch will be replaced. The rehabilitation has a 20-year life expectancy.
Lovell said contractors were back on the runway by midnight after an hour-long delay.
“We actually delayed the beginning of construction to make sure that the flights could get in,” Lovell said.
Taylor Burt, local reality television personality, was on the Spirit Airlines flight to Myrtle Beach and eventually Boston. He boarded his layover flight in Ft. Lauderdale and was supposed to land at 9:50 p.m., but made it to Myrtle Beach at 11 p.m.
“They said you’re either flying into Myrtle Beach or we’re flying you to Boston,” Burt said of airline officials. The flight was originally planned to stop in Myrtle Beach and then continue to Boston, and the airline was five minutes away from giving passengers the option of deplaning or flying to Boston. “There were a lot of people heading to the beach. One guy was headed to a wedding [Wednesday], there was a supervisor with Time Warner who had appointments today... there were a lot of people who had a lot of things to do.”
Lovell said an outage like this has not happened before.
“Typically lights just don’t go out. There’s always that realm of possibility,” he said of another outage, “but no it should not happen again.
“The important thing is the lights were turned back on and we’re taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Lovell said. “The airport is a safe environment for operations.”