Chicago’s Midway Airport Closes For Hours After Power Outage Kills Runway Lights

A key part of the flying process is landing (and taking off, for that matter), and no one is going to be doing much of that when there are no lights on the runway, especially at night. Chicago’s Midway Airport had to shut down for almost four hours last night after a equipment failure on the part of the electric company resulted in the power being cut to the runway lights.

The airport closed down about 9:10 p.m. after a problem in an airfield lighting vault cut power to runway lights, officials said. Around 85 flights had to be canceled or diverted, said a spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation.  Power was restored to the runways at 1:19 a.m..

Those who were set to fly in or out of Midway this morning are advised to check with their airlines on the status of those flights. No terminals were affected, and airplanes were escorted back to the building to let passengers get off the planes.

Of course, the aftermath was all over the Internet, as everyone took to various social networks to complain about the wait and being stuck on the tarmac as the runway lights went out, says the Chicago Tribune.

A ComEd spokeswoman indicated it was a problem with equipment but had no other details.

Midway closed nearly 4 hours after outage cuts power to runway lights [Chicago Tribune]



Edit Your Comment

  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Sucks when your cousin’s flight is cancelled right before a wedding!


  2. Zelgadis says:

    If this were O’Hare, it would be news.

    Some pissant secondary airport? Only if you live in Chicago.

    • FatLynn says:

      Hate to tell you this, but MDW is still a really big airport; third in the Midwest after ORD and MSP.

    • SirWired says:

      It’s an important Southwest hub; it’s not a tiny airport.

    • anime_runs_my_life says:

      Uh, what? Really? Wow. Someone does not do a lot of travelling. Midway is huge! I think someone needs to do a little more research before spouting off something they don’t know.

    • Nobby says:

      Zelgadis’ comment sort of makes sense if you don’t think about it. You see, Midway is in the middle of a neighborhood, therefore it’s just a neighborhood airport.

      • theblackdog says:

        Midway is also what Southwest uses for flights to Chicago, so it’s definitely a big deal to those customers

    • eeelaine says:

      Midway has more traffic than airports like Oakland, San Diego, or Tampa. Its approximately the same amount of traffic as DCA in Washington.

  3. anime_runs_my_life says:

    I imagine the problem has to do with the huge heatwave that’s hitting the Midwest right now. We lost power twice yesterday, right at the hottest part of the day. There were reports of the power being out even after the sun went down.

  4. Mr_Magoo says:

    Why didn’t the pilots just turn on their headlights?

  5. fsnuffer says:

    If Joe Patroni worked at Midway he would have had the pickup trucks lining the runway with their headlights on lickity split

  6. Marlin says:

    I found the problem…

    Sale… Penneys…

  7. HalOfBorg says:

    They couldn’t do an instrument landing? Or was the tower/radar down as well?

    No backup system for runway lights?

    • Remarkable Melba Kramer says:

      Instrument approaches still require a visual minimum.

    • eeelaine says:

      An instrument approach can get you close, but you still need the lights to help you judge the landing and taxi around the airport after you land.

      You could do it in an emergency, but its not a good idea (and the lights being out is not an emergency).

  8. George4478 says:

    >.A ComEd spokeswoman indicated it was a problem with equipment but had no other details.

    As opposed to a change in the laws of physics concerning lightwaves? Of course there’s a problem with the equipment.

  9. RIP - Paul Kirby-"Time is gold get your money's worth" says:

    Now Exelon has taken over BGE this is what Baltimore has to look forward to. Seems their name is ironic and they do not EXcEL at keeping the lights ON

  10. PragmaticGuy says:

    When the runway lights were out John McClane figured they would land by the firelight of that crashed plane. That might have worked here too.

  11. wackydan says:

    No generators of any sort? I suppose they may have some, but the electrical problem was more local to the lights than any backup they had for a general power failure.

  12. dush says:

    We are so dependent on electricity. A telling lesson.

  13. Preppy6917 says:

    I wonder how many stranded passengers demanded that the airlines put them up in hotels or compensation.