Firefighters from the Port of Seattle transport a simulated casualty during the airport’s recent triennial disaster drill
The FAA requires airports to conduct a comprehensive disaster drill every three years. On July 12, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) did its thing, and it was quite a sight.
Volunteer “victims” hung out in a comfortable hangar, waiting for the drill to begin
Volunteer victims included employees of the airport, several airlines, airfield support companies, the FAA, and the TSA. They received elaborate makeup at a remote hangar in order to maximize the realism of the drill.
An old Boeing 757 fuselage mock-up, trucked in from Moses Lake, Wash., was placed between runways for the drill
Unlike the past two events I’ve covered, which were held on a runway that needed to be closed for an entire morning, this drill was held in a small valley between runway 34L and 34C, allowing most airport operations to run normally.
A new wooden staircase made the old fuselage section a bit easier to access
Safety outweighs absolute realism, so a staircase was constructed to allow access to the fuselage to avoid any real injuries during the exercise.
Several “victims” were coached to drag their luggage with them, while others were asked to hang around the fuselage taking selfies to provide rescuers the opportunity to work around a couple of trending hazards.
The volunteer victims were instructed to provide realistic issues for rescuers to confront, ranging from dazed people dragging their luggage aimlessly around the scene, people with various injuries (or no injuries) slowing things down by trying to take selfies, people yelling and screaming, walking wounded, and more.
BONUS: My Day as a [Mock] Airline Accident Victim!
The exercise’s faux victims didn’t lack for realistic-looking trauma
An up-close look at a responding airport fire truck
There was no shortage of equipment – more than 50 rescue vehicles turned up: airport fire trucks, ladder trucks, hazmat vehicles, police cars, ambulances, and more.
A right proper mess, that
There were plenty of rescuers, and plenty of faux victims for them to attend to
Dozens of police and fire agencies from across the region participated in the exercise, drawing an estimated 175 firefighters.
Even though they used a partial 757 fuselage, the exercise was designed to simulate the crash of a 737-sized aircraft with 150 passengers.
Training is an essential component of properly-functioning emergency services – it’s always comforting to see how well prepared these agencies are for a real disaster scenario.
Full-scale disaster drill at Kansas City International, in full swing – Photo: JL Johnson | AirlineReporter
Practice makes perfect. And in the realm of aviation safety drills, it also creates incredible experiences for willing volunteers. Kansas City International Airport (MCI, or KCI as it’s referred to by the locals) recently hosted their triennial emergency exercise, and I was fortunate enough to score a role as a victim. I was told this was a full-scale drill from the beginning, but wasn’t sure exactly what to expect.
The closest I’ve ever been to anything remotely resembling an emergency was on my very first Airbus A320 flight just a few years ago from Minneapolis (MSP) to Pittsburgh (PIT). It was late, and after a typical approach the engines roared and we were on steep climb. Upon leveling off, the Delta captain came on to tell us we had briefly “lost steering.” After a missed approach and a fly-by, we landed uneventfully, were greeted by an ARFF (aircraft rescue and firefighting) escort, and towed to the gate. This experience, plus participating in some rudimentary safety training with Delta during last year’s #InsideDelta event, formed the foundation for my expectations.
I would soon learn I had no idea how disasters really play out, especially on the ground…
This is the Germanwings Airbus A320 (D-AIPX) involved in the crash, seen on 3/14/15 at Zurich Airport – Photo: Aero Icarus | Flickr CC
Today, a Germanwings Airbus A320 (registration D-AIPX) crashed in the Alps in southeastern France. The aircraft was carrying 144 passengers and six crew members and there are no survivors. The flight left at about 10:01am local time from Barcelona and was on its way to Dusseldorf. The crash happened near the village of Prads-Haute-Bleaone, at an altitude of about 6,550 feet. The search will be difficult, since the plane crashed in a remote, mountainous area.
The descent of flight 9525 – Image: Google Earth | @GueardedDon
According to FlightAware, it appears that flight 9525 descended in a controlled manner from 38,000 feet at 1500 to 4000 fpm. The aircraft hit cruise altitude at about 10:45am and then started descent at 10:46am and lost contact with Air Traffic Control (ATC) at about 10:53am.
A TransAsia ATR crashes – Photo: @Missxoxo168
UPDATE 2/4/15 7:00AM PST: The Associated Press is reporting that the death toll from the accident has risen to 25, with 18 people still unaccounted for. Per civil aviation authorities in Taiwan, the pilot had logged nearly 5,000 flight hours. The cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder (“Black Boxes”) have been recovered, which should assist authorities in determining the cause(s) of the crash.
TransAsia Flight 235 (GE235), an ATR72-600, has crashed during takeoff while en route from Taipei Sung Shan (TSA) to Kinmen Shang-Yi Airport (KNH), in the Fujian Province. The aircraft, reg# B-22816, was only 10 months old at the time of the crash.
Rescuers and passengers can be seen on the bank with the TransAsia ATR72 in the background – Photo: Yung Jen
Video and photos show the aircraft at a steep angle flying over an overpass and then into the Keelung River. At the time of this update, there have been three reported passenger deaths with another few injured.