Fiber-optic cable cut at airport causes air-travel headaches

Several flights in and out of a Florida airport had to be rerouted, delayed or cancelled.

May 7th, 2014

South Florida news agency the SunSentinel recently reported on the fallout of a cut fiber-optic line at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. On Wednesday, April 30, the SunSentinel’s Wayne K. Roustan reported, “Dozens of flights were delayed, rerouted or cancelled … when a construction crew cut a fiber-optic cable … The crew was working outside Terminal Four when the line was severed.”

Roustan’s report quoted airport spokesman Greg Meyer as saying that the fiber-optic line “had a main data feed to the airport meaning the airlines, aviation department, U.S. Customs,” and that the line’s severing caused these users to lose phone and Internet connectivity. “Even WiFi wasn’t working for passengers in the terminals,” he also reported.

In an article published in Cabling Installation and Maintenance magazine in June 2012, Pearson Technologies’ president Eric R. Pearson, CFOS, dubbed this type of incident “back hoe fade.” He explained, “All cables are susceptible to breakage. The form specific to underground cables is a very rapid back hoe fade, or unintentional severing of a cable by a back hoe or other piece of construction equipment.” That article, titled “15 lessons from lawsuits involving fiber-optic installations,” says there are three lessons to be learned from such a back-hoe-fade event.

  1. How to handle the situation: “Snagging, breaking, and burying a broken cable are not viable solutions. Logic and/or witnesses will identify the responsible party. Guaranteed.”
  2. Minimum actions to take prior to construction: “At this time [prior to breaking ground], the installer can document the marked cable locations. Without such evidence, defense will be difficult and expensive.”
  3. Photographing the incident: “Almost everyone has a cell phone or a digital camera to document this situation. At the time of a cable hit, the installer can document actual locations and depths. With photographs before and after, the actual position of the cable will be known. If the cable is not located in the position or at the depth that the owner has indicated, the installer may not be liable for the damage.”

You can read Wayne K. Roustan’s article from the SunSentinel here.

You can read Eric Pearson’s complete article here.

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