Analysis of airport disaster procedures
As part of its Emergency Response Plan review, on October 6 the Bilbao Airport conducted a drill to assess the action and coordination procedures foreseen in the plan, analyze the efficiency thereof and verify how well the different groups involved in responding to an airport disaster know and integrate the plan.
All airports comprising the Aena network have an emergency response plan covering both external emergencies and internal airport security, aimed at minimizing the consequences of a plane crash, both in the airport’s taxiing area and in the airport fly space used by air craft during daily take-offs and landings. The fundamental objective is to safeguard human lives and the property that could be affected by such an incident, while also ensuring continuity or reestablishment of airport operations.
During the drill, airport officials analyzed reaction and response times of all internal and external groups involved. This brings the Basque Country facility into compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) airport preparedness regulations as well as with legislation laid down by national, regional and local authorities requiring airport managers to have appropriate airport security plans. The drill also reflects Aena’s commitment to providing safe, quality service.
The drill simulated the crash of a commercial plane upon take-off on runway 12-30, while carrying five crew members and 19 passengers.
The scenario was that, during take-off, the engine failed and there was a rapid loss of lift. After lifting several yards off the ground, the plane crashes near the terminal, to the right of the runway. Debris from the crash end up near the BI-3707 motorway.
The impact and the ensuing fire cause major structural damage in the plane.
The crash results in five people dead, eight injured and eleven unharmed.
The accident is first seen by the Control Tower. The controller sounds the general alarm, informing the airport Operations and firefighting areas.
The Operations area calls the Bilbao emergency assistance number (112) to report the incident and provide the information available at that time: approximate location of the crash, type of plane, passenger capacity and fuel capacity.
Emergency assistance then activates tactical operations of the Basque Country Emergency Response System for aircraft disasters at the Bilbao airport.
Once Aena firefighters have brought the fire under control and it is safe to do so, firefighters enter the remains of the fuselage to fully extinguish the fire inside the plane, clear the smoke and rescue the seriously injured passengers that were unable to exit the plane on their own.
During the first few minutes, external response teams activated by the Basque Country Government Emergency Response Division begin arriving on the scene. Firefighters and medical professionals treat the victims that were near the crash and rescue the injured.
Control is transferred to the main command post and the advance command post. The emergency response is then overseen by personnel from the Basque Country Government Emergency Response Division.
Once the first-aid area is set up and triage is performed to determine the order of treatment and transport of the injured, all victims are stabilized and evacuated by medical teams.
At the same time, the families of those involved in the accident are taken to the Family Member Lounge and treated by psychologists, the Airport Supervisor of Victim Care and the Basque Country government liaison.
Several different groups from Aena and other external organizations that regularly provide airport services such as the Airport Management Division, Control Tower, Operations area, Airport Security area, airlines, Guardia Civil, handling agents and Aemet, participated in the drill.
External participants included:
- Basque Country Government Emergency Response Division
- Basque Country Health Service (Osakidetza)
- Guardia Civil
- National police force
- Basque Country police force (Ertzaintza)
- Bizkaia firefighters
- Red Cross
- Nursing School
- Loiu City Council
- National government representation office
The drill was part of the Emergency Response Plan, which is regularly updated and fine-tuned by the periodic performance, by the different services involved, of partial drills to test and evaluate response capacity and to analyze disaster response procedures and times.