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Hong Kong Airport Tests Emergency Response Readiness

Search ASIA Travel Tips .com Send to Friend ASIA Travel Latest Travel News Monday, 23 November 2009

Hong Kong International Airport's emergency response capability was put through its paces when a rescue exercise involving sea, land and air operations was carried out late last week. In the annual drill, a Government Flying Services (GFS) helicopter was mobilised to help search for survivors after an airplane crashed upon landing on the North Runway.

The exercise, codenamed Crash Exercise 2009, simulated an incoming flight from "Miza" to HKIA that crashed while landing on the North Runway at around 0500 hours. As part of the scenario, the aircraft, carrying around 280 passengers and crew members on board, broke into two sections, with its main fuselage coming to rest in a taxiway. A number of passengers were found in the nearby water west of the North Runway.

Large-scale rescue work immediately commenced when the Air Traffic Control Tower activated the crash alarm. The first rescue team responded to the alarm and arrived at the scene within two minutes of the accident. The Airport Emergency Centre was also activated to act as the off-site coordination centre for close communications among all concerned parties and to ensure that prompt rescue actions were taken.

As the sky was still dark when the accident occurred, Government Flying Services mobilised a helicopter to provide an aerial search for survivors. With the help of the helicopter's searchlight and Forward Looking Infra Red detection system, the Airport Fire Contingent of the Fire Services Department (FSD) then deployed a rescue vessel to carry out sea rescue operation.

Simultaneously, the land rescue team attended to the fuselage, extinguishing the fire and evacuating from the area surviving passengers and crew, who were then conveyed to six hospitals. The uninjured were escorted to the Passenger Reception Centre in Terminal 1 for immigration and customs clearances.

The multi-modal sea, land and air rescue action finished at 0704 hours. 107 simulated passengers and crew member were injured and carried to hospital by ambulances. While 153 people were saved uninjured, 17 lost their lives in the accident, including all of the five passengers recovered by sea.

The Airport Authority (AA), together with the Civil Aviation Department, Hong Kong Police, FSD and Cathay Pacific, even held a simulated press conference where around 30 university students acted as journalists to report the accident. Participating airline Cathay Pacific provided an A330-300 aircraft for the operation.

The annual exercise was organised to fulfill the mandatory aerodrome licensing requirement at HKIA. Ricky Leung, General Manager, Technical Services of the AA, said, "This exercise demonstrated the commitment shared among the AA, airlines, government departments and other concerned parties in maintaining a high level of contingency preparedness and safety, which forms the backbone of our operations.

"As accidents may occur at any time and in any form and scale, we conduct around 30 drills each year to simulate different emergency scenarios as realistically as possible to refine our crisis management procedures. We will continue to work concertedly with the airport community to ensure that the airport has the adequate equipment and that people working at the airport have the right skills and expertise in handling crisis," added Mr Leung.

Over 1200 participants from the AA, airlines, government departments and other organisations took part in the exercise.

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