United Airlines Operations Center Power Protection and AV Infrastructure

Headquartered in Chicago, United Airlines and United Express average 5,656 flights a day to 376 airports on six continents. United’s Network Operations Center at the Willis Tower is the central hub of their day-to-day operations and plays a critical role in tracking their entire fleet of in-flight aircraft around the world.

United needed a back-up power system to ensure that mission-critical flight operations (i.e. checking plane conditions, talking to captains and monitoring each flight) could still be controlled in the event of a city or building power outage.

United trusted Level-1 to redesign and implement a comprehensive uninterruptable power systems infrastructure along with furnishing all associated communications closets with uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and a generator backup system for their World-Wide Flight Operation Center.

Level-1 also installed a new conference room A/V infrastructure throughout the Center to provide reliable connectivity to laptops and other sound systems and media players during meetings, trainings and war room presentations.

The physical size of the UPS components required to guarantee power to support United’s operations – a Liebert dual UPS unit, associated transfer switch gear and a 7,000-pound twin turbo V12 Cummings Diesel Generator – posed a unique set of challenges.

The dual UPS unit has to be dismantled and transported in pieces via the building’s freight elevator to the Operation Center’s floor, where it was then reassembled. The backup generator was also disassembled and lowered in pieces by crane through an exhaust shaft to the sub-basement below Lower Wacker Drive, which required multiple overnight road closures of nearby Jackson Boulevard.

Level-1 oversaw the installation and coordination of these services to ensure that the equipment was properly delivered, assembled and functional to meet commissioning activities, manufacturer requirements and project specifications.

Level-1 delivered the project on-time and on-budget and is proud to say that today every single United flight is backed up by a Level-1 comprehensive electrical power solution.