Three dozen departing flights from Raleigh-Durham International Airport were delayed this morning on one of the busiest travel days of the year, after a false alarm in an airport authority computer triggered a shutdown of the jet refueling system. [Updated 10:30 a.m.]
The computer error at 4:30 a.m. was corrected and the fuel system was operating properly by 6:30 a.m., but the backup caused continuing delays of 15 to 60 minutes for departures as late as 9 a.m., airport spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said.
Southwest Airlines flights were able to get their fuel from trucks and were not delayed, but all other airlines were affected, Hamlin said.
“Our computer system told us there was an emergency so it shut the fueling system down as a safety precaution,” Hamlin said. “There was no emergency. Then we had to reboot the system, and that process takes time.”
The action halted the flow from the airport’s fuel farm to the terminal gates where parked jets receive their fuel. An estimated 26,000 to 27,000 travelers will fly in or out of RDU today.
“We had many flight delays this morning. We still have some delays that are showing on the board, just a few,” Hamlin said at 9 a.m. “It’s that ripple effect that happens when things get off line.”