Plane Rescue, How Close?

January 4, 2013

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) conducts a full-scale airport emergency exercise every two years in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Suggested and Recommended Practices (SARPS) which is incorporated in Manual of Standards (MOS) issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) under Administrative Order 139, specifically Section

The latest MIAA CREX exercise will be conducted this year. It previously held in October 20, 2011 the “2011 Crash and Rescue Exercise (CREX)” outside airport premises free from obstacles, from traffic to accessibility.

Rescue drills test response time, as well as capability and effectiveness of the MIAA’s airport emergency preparedness plan in rescuing passengers in an aircraft accident within land and water vicinities of 5 kilometer radius from the Aerodrome Reference Point (ARP) of the NAIA.  

The ARP is the intersection point of Runway 13/31 and Runway 06/24 however, this does not preclude Airport Crash and Rescue Organization (ACRO) from responding outside the limits indicated above when called upon to assist by the Rescue Coordination Center (RCC).

Almost two months after the exercise, a plane did crash beyond the threshold of Runway 13/31 in Paranaque City on December 10, 2011 hitting a school building and killing 14 people including children.

The drill turned out fine in the real drama, except for the rescue. In the actual event the first to respond was the rescue helicopter which reported in advance the situations on the ground and the location of the crash site. It returned later with a bucket of water to douse flames in the area according to the video source. The ground firefighters arrived 15 minutes later amidst traffic and difficult access to the area unlike the training they have at Macapagal Avenue.

 Clearing and securing the area turns out difficult than rehearsed.

The crash simulation was different in many ways from the actual plane crash scenario which MIAA's Crash and Rescue experienced. Incorporating the lessons learned in that plane crash is desired in the 2013 CREX to fine-tuned response time and test how effective rescue personnels are in rescuing passengers and/or containing property damage in similar aircraft accident outside airport premises. While it remains to be seen whether the drills they have inside the fence turned out to be an invaluable experience gained in actual scenarios.

The Airport Crash and Rescue Organization (ACRO) is established in coordination with the different government and private agencies involved in rescue, fire control, security, medical assistance, care and welfare of the victims of aircraft and on-aircraft accident.

In a similar fashion,  Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) also conducts Mactan Crash and Rescue Exercises (Macrex) first started in 2010, which it held recently on June 26, 2012 testing its capability in responding to aircraft accidents within airport premises.

In the MACREX 2012 MCIAA performed drills for Emergency Plan No. 1 or the aircraft accident at airport under Mactan Airport Emergency Plan (Maep).

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