An Overview of Aerodrome Emergency Planning



Understanding the basics

Aerodrome: A defined area on land or water (including any buildings, installations and equipment) intended to be used either wholly or in part for the arrival, departure and surface movement of aircraft.

Emergency: A sudden unforeseen crisis (usually involving danger) that requires immediate action.

Emergency plan: A documented course of action specifying procedures for handling sudden and unexpected situations.

Aircraft Accident

An occurrence during the operation of an aircraft in which any person involved suffers death or serious injury or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage.

Aircraft Incident

An occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft, which affects or could affect continued safe operation of the aircraft if not corrected


Aerodrome Emergency Planning/Management

Aerodrome emergency planning is the process of preparing an aerodrome to cope with an emergency occurring at the aerodrome or in its vicinity.

A comprehensive aerodrome emergency plan will consider

  • Preplanning before an emergency
  • Operations during an emergency
  • Support and documentation after an emergency


The objective of the Aerodrome Emergency Planning is to minimise the effects of an emergency particularly in respect of saving lives and maintaining aircraft operations

While the scope of this Aerodrome Emergency Planning should cover the following:

  • COMMAND & CONTROL – This essentially refers to the organisation that has the overall authority  in the location in which the aircraft accident/incident  has occurred and its ability to direct and give orders
  • COMMUNICATION– This refers to the equipment and tools that are vital for achieving good co-ordination in an emergency response
  • CO-ORDINATION- Is the organisation of different elements of an activity so as to enable them to work together effectively.


The AEP Manual

This is simply a document is that contains procedures for co-ordinating the response of airport agencies and agencies of the surrounding communities that could be of assistance in responding to the emergency.

Types Of Emergencies

Different types of emergencies which can be anticipated are:

  • Emergencies involving aircraft
  • Emergencies not involving aircraft
  • Combinations of these emergencies

Agencies involved in the AEP

  • RFFS
  • ATS
  • Airport Authority
  • CAA
  • Police/Security agencies
  • Medical Services
  • International relief organisations
  • Immigration
  • Customs
  • Aircraft Operators


Aerodrome Emergency Exercises

These are the methods of testing the airport emergency plan, they are:

  1. a) Full-scale emergency exercise;
  2. b) Partial exercise;
  3. c) Tabletop exercise.

Full-scale Emergency exercise: The airport emergency plan should be given full-scale emergency exercises to test all facilities and associated agencies at intervals not exceeding two years.

Partial Exercise : This exercise may involve only one unit, such as rescue and firefighting services or medical, or a combination of several units, as desired. Is held at least once each year that a full-scale exercise is not held to ensure that any deficiencies found during the full-scale airport emergency exercise has been corrected.

Tabletop Exercise: Done at least once every six months. It is the simplest form of emergency exercise. It requires only a meeting room, large scale grid map and senior representatives of each participating agency.


Triage is the sorting and classification of casualties to determine the order of priority for treatment and transportation.

Priority I   –  Immediate Care

Priority  II  –  Delayed care

Priority  III  –  Minor Care

Priority  0   –  Deceased

Triage area: Location where triage operations are performed.


Zainab N. Ahmed is an aviation safety practitioner specialising in aircraft rescue fire-fighting