USAF Learns Lessons from Travis Power Outage

The Air Force is reviewing how Travis AFB, Calif., handled a recent power outage to determine how it can better prepare a base that is cut off from its electrical source, the service’s head of installations said.

Travis lost power on Nov. 26 for about 16 hours, limiting some operations and requiring restricted manning on base until Pacific Gas and Electric got the power back on during the afternoon of Nov. 27.

This sudden, unexpected loss of power at a major USAF installation can be a learning experience for the service and outline steps it needs to take to be better prepared for the future, said John Henderson, the service’s assistant secretary for installations.

“While it wasn’t planned, it serves as a good unplanned ‘pull the plug’ exercise,” Henderson said. “I’ve asked our team to go back and do an after-action review on that to see if there were any gaps in our mission capability when we lost power, and then, what we do is, we turn those into projects to mitigate those gaps.”

A fire at a substation off base caused Travis to lose almost all of its electricity, forcing base officials to go to minimal manning until the lights came back on. The base’s 60th Civil Engineering Squadron worked with PG&E to restore power.

While certain facilities such as the base hospital, some force support squadron buildings, the commissary, and dining facilities remained with power, other buildings such as the exchange, the fitness center, and the visitor center were closed.

“Critical facilities are up and running, have minimal impact on air operations, they’re still able to run the airfield, and run operations out of there, and they’re still able to move forward to get day-to-day operations done in spite of the fact that one of the transformers off the base that affects power to the base eliminated power from PG&E,” Henderson said.

Travis would not elaborate on the impact to flying operations, citing operational security.