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Post-Incident Airport Operations
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An important phase of any airport emergency is the action taken after the response to the incident. The airport emergency plan (AEP) describes those activities related to investigation and recovery. During the recovery phase, certain actions - for example, documentation, facility inspection, employee crisis psychotherapy, reconstruction, public information and general cleanup - are taken to ensure that the airport is restored to pre-emergency conditions. Airport management is responsible for ensuring that all appropriate actions are taken, regardless of the type of emergency, to re-establish safe airport operations after an incident.
Airport Emergency Plan (AEP)
As with the other phases of an emergency, the AEP should identify assignments, organization responsibilities, command and control, and other required functional areas. If an airport has been closed because of an emergency situation, it should not re-open until assigned personnel have ensured that:
- Aircraft operating areas are safe and secure.
- Aircraft movement areas to be reopened have been inspected.
- Adequate aircraft rescue and firefighting protection is available (if applicable).
- Public safety is assured.
The AEP should identify who is responsible for documenting all actions taken, including providing facilitation for the creation of the safety occurence report. These reports should cover all pertinent information in accordance with the provisions in ICAO Annex 13. Airport personnel should continuously monitor changing airfield conditions throughout the emergency situation and issue appropriate NOTAMs.
Additionally, an AEP should:
- Identify the party responsible for ensuring that airport facilities are assessed during the recovery phase of the incident.
- Specify responsibilities and additional resources for all cleanup and repairs.
- Identify the roles and personnel for the recovery process and for returning the airport to normal safe operations; it may require coordination of schedules.
- Identify all appropriate air traffic control (ATC) facilities and contact information.
General Post Accident Procedures
- Ensure that all ignition sources and fuel spills are neutralized
- Place appropriate police/security forces around the area
- Do not move anything (except persons to hospitals) without explicit approval and instructions from the RFFS commanding officer and/or the on-site National CAA representative. All evidence should be preserved for investigation purposes.
- Open up unaffected runways as soon as possible.
- Replenish fire fighting supplies and other supplies as necessary.
- If hazardous materials (cargo) are present, handle in accordance with approved procedures.
Removal of Wreckage
If the accident involves personal injury or death, the aircraft wreckage should not be removed without clearance from the National CAA and the aircraft owner. However, if aircraft or parts must be moved prior to completion of a full investigation (because they represent a hazard to life or property), a record must be made of the locations of all parts, and care exercised to preserve any evidence that might help determine the cause of the accident. As soon as practical following an incident, the owner or operator shall be advised that the aircraft must be removed.
Following removal of the wreckage, the responsible airport authorities must inspect the runway/taxiway pavement and surrounding surfaces for damage and debris and, if satisfactory, the airport may be reopened to air traffic. If a runway is to remain closed, it should be marked according the ICAO SARPs provisions in Annex 14.
- Emergency Guidebook for General Aviation Airports, University of Minnesota, published by Minnesota Airport Technical Assistance Program (AirTAP)
- Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), EUROCONTROL, October 2008
- CAP 699 - Framework for the competence of rescue and fire fighting service (RFFS) personnel, January 2017
- Aviation Accident Checklist, by ATSB, 7th edition, June 2017
- Hazards at Aviation Accident Sites - Guidance for Police and Emergency Personnel, by ATSB, 7th edition, June 2017