Airport Emergency Exercise

Aviation Rescue Services

A comprehensive and frequently practised Aerodrome Emergency Plan (AEP), developed and maintained in consultation with all responsible agencies, is essential to ensure that loss of life and suffering in the event of an emergency, is minimised.

Aerodrome Emergency Plans (AEPs) must be tested regularly to ensure effectiveness, particularly given the dynamic nature of the airport environment. This can be best achieved through carefully planned exercises which can:

  • Highlight potential gaps and weaknesses,
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities,
  • Improve incident coordination and interoperability,
  • Educate / create awareness,
  • Improve individual competency; and,
  • Improve public confidence of emergency capability.

A full-scale airport emergency exercise is not a training exercise. It is not designed to teach airport and other team members about emergency response or to ensure that those involved are competent in the roles they may be assigned. The purpose of an airport emergency exercise is to evaluate the preparedness and capabilities of an airport, its tenants, and response agencies.

Airport emergency exercises should be conducted in accordance with legislated requirements and the operational risk profile, considering any ‘rising tide events or risks as they become prevalent. The exercise will have an aim and set of objectives to ensure that the exercises meet the agreed criteria and that the exercise can accord with the following minimum requirements:

  • Test the callout system
  • Test the rendezvous point system
  • Test incident command structure
  • Test the operational response
  • Test the medical response
  • Test reception centres / emergency operation centres (EOC)
  • Test crisis management procedures
  • Test business continuity / recovery
  • Test practical firefighting, search, and rescue
  • Test overall communications
  • Test overall interoperability

In Australia, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority Advisory Circular AC 139.C-18v1.0 states:

3.1 Requirements that apply at all certified aerodromes

3.1.1 The operator of a certified aerodrome is required to:

  • record (or reference), in their aerodrome manual, the aerodrome emergency response procedures outlined in section 11.12 of the Part 139 MOS.
  • make available to emergency agencies the location details, or maps, of the aerodrome, and its immediately vicinity.

3.1.2 Additional requirements (as outlined below) are dependent on the type and frequency of aircraft operations occurring at the aerodrome.

3.1.3 To meet their compliance obligations, it is expected each aerodrome operator would have an awareness of the movement rates at their aerodrome. For guidance on monitoring and calculating air transport passenger/aircraft movement numbers, refer to AC 139.A-03 ‘Application of aerodrome standards’.

3.1.4 Aerodromes that are an ‘alternate’ for international operations are not considered to have scheduled international air transport operations, therefore the scheduled international air transport operations trigger will not apply at these aerodromes.

3.2 Does my aerodrome require an Aerodrome Emergency Plan?

3.2.1 In addition to the requirements in para 3.1.1, an AEP that meets the requirements of section 24.02 of the Part 139 MOS, is required for an aerodrome that has:

  • scheduled international air transport operations
  • 50 000 or more air transport passenger movements in a financial year
  • 100 000 or more aircraft movements in a financial year.

3.2.2 Aerodromes that have an AEP are to adhere to the testing and review requirements stated in section 24.05 of the Part 139 MOS.

3.2.3 Guidance on developing, testing, and review of the AEP are further described in section 6 of this [Advisory Circular] AC.

3.3 Aerodromes that do not require an Aerodrome Emergency Plan

3.3.1 Operators of an aerodrome that does not meet the trigger criterion to have an aerodrome emergency plan (AEP) are, in addition to the requirements in para 3.1.1, required to:

  • have emergency response arrangements that address section 24.03 of the Part 139 MOS
  • ensure that those emergency response arrangements are represented in the applicable local or state/territory emergency response plans.

3.3.2 Local emergency responders should be familiar with the emergency preparedness and response arrangements.