TIA’s defense system against lightning - FOX 13 News

TIA’s defense system against lightning

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

The I-4 corridor from Tampa to Orlando is known as the lightning capital of the United States.

In fact, statewide some 1.4 million strikes reign down on Florida each year. Unfortunately, this state also tops the list of injuries and fatalities because of lightning.

So how does TIA keep its 8 million-plus passengers and crew safe from this unpredictable weather?

The answer is in the airport's precision lightning warning system.

"The precision lightning warning system has three data input devices," said Paul Anderson, airport operations manager. "There are two electronic field mills on the property that can measure the potential for atmospheric lightning. It's static potential – if you will.

"The third data input is a tied into the National Lightning Data Network. That actually measures real-time ground strikes of lightning, and if they occur within certain ranges of TIA, the area we are trying to protect, it will cause an alarm in the system."

That goes out to all the airline locations and operations offices, Anderson said.

Once it sounds, operations will cease. No loading bags. No food on the planes. No loading or unloading of passengers.

But most importantly, there is no refueling.

"Fueling does attract static pools of electricity," Anderson said. "Now that's the worst situation because you don't want a flammable substance attracting an ignition source. However, diesel fuel is very difficult to light, so that kind of helps a little bit. But fueling is the No. 1 concern. They first disconnect from the aircraft if those operations are in place during warning times."

It may be a small inconvenience for you, but keeping passengers and employees safe is still TIA's No. 1 priority.

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