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.
Raptor biologist Bud Anderson, left, holds a red-tailed hawk chick after it was retrieved from a nest 80 feet above the ground in woods adjacent to the airport.
Bird strikes are a problem for aviation, especially large birds. Damage can be expensive, and bird strikes have caused damage to aircraft that results in flight-control issues, a la US Airways Flight 1549.
One of the parents of the raptor chicks being relocated reacts angrily to the intrusion.
According to an FAA report, “The annual cost of wildlife strikes to the USA civil aviation industry in 2015 was projected to be a minimum of 69,497 hours of aircraft downtime and $229 million in direct and other monetary losses. Actual losses are likely much higher.”
ROTC cadet launching a balsa-wood airplane
Roughly 1,200 high school and college students from across Washington state descended on Alaska Airlines’ maintenance facilities at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport recently to get a behind-the-scenes look at the aviation industry. More than 350 Alaska Airlines employees volunteered their time and expertise for the day.
An attendee checks out King County’s search & rescue UH-1H helicopter
The Navy brought an EA-18G Growler over from Naval Air Station Whidbey, local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies brought vehicles and staff to answer questions about careers, and more than a dozen general aviation aircraft filled a hangar for students to see, and some were available for them to learn how to pre-flight, including a Piper J-3 Cub and a Cessna Caravan.
A variant of the Queen of the Skies took a step closer towards the history books this week as Kalitta Air retired its remaining 747-200, which is one of the few remaining airworthy civilian models of the type.
N793CK, A Kalitta Air 747-200 freighter, prepares to land at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on its next-to-last flight before being placed into storage
This particular airframe was delivered to United Airlines in March 1987, having been built at Boeing’s Everett, Wash., factory. It was converted to a freighter in 2000 by Boeing while registered to Northwest Airlines, and was eventually put into storage in 2009. In 2010, it returned to service with Kalitta, and was officially retired on April 23.
Seconds before touchdown at SEA
“It’s nice to see that people still care about this stuff,” said Capt. Scott Jakl as he and his flight crew were preparing the aircraft for the flight to Kalitta’s maintenance facility in Oscoda, Mich. “This is a very big deal for us,” he said of the plane’s last flight.