Qatar Airways and Hamad International Airport conducted a planned emergency exercise today to train staff on managing an aircraft accident at Hamad International Airport (HIA) home to the airline.
The annual preparedness exercise is part of Qatar Airways' commitment to ensure that its staff members are equipped to handle any emergency situation in a timely, safe and responsible manner.
Hamad International Airport officially commenced commercial operations in April 2014 and contains a robust network of highly sophisticated technology, including a state-of-the-art operations control center.
This is the second emergency exercise to take place at HIA, which was preceded by one held in 2012. This year’s exercise involved airport stakeholders and all major emergency response organizations in the State of Qatar. The full-scale exercise included 140 volunteer passengers, a Qatar Airways Airbus 330-200 aircraft with 14 crew members as well as 50 volunteer family members waiting at the airport. The exercise was conducted at a scale that exceeds international requirements to fully test the readiness of the airport, airline, its stakeholders and partners.
Qatar Airways participated in the high-level jointly coordinated exercise with Hamad International Airport (of which Qatar Airways Group is the operator), Qatar Airways Group subsidiaries, Hamad Medical Corporation, Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, Ministry of Interior (MOI), Qatar Emiri Air Force, Qatar Armed Forces, the State of Qatar Police, Civil Defence, the Supreme Council of Health, National Command Centre, Ministry of Defence, Air Customs, Airline Operators Committee, and other support services and organizations.
Akbar Al Baker, Group Chief Executive, members of Qatar Airways Senior Management, and HIA Senior Management, including Badr Al Meer, Chief Operating Officer of Hamad International Airport, Brigadier Essa Arar Al Rumaihi, Director of the Airport Security Department (MOI), and Ashish Jain, Qatar Airways Senior Vice President Group Safety & Security, were all present as participants and key stakeholders in the initiative.
The scenario involved a flight that alerted an emergency 15 minutes after take-off from Hamad International Airport reporting severe flight control problems. Following that a hard landing took place and resulted in simulated injuries and damage to the aircraft that had to be managed by the ground HIA team. Helicopters, ambulances and the aircraft chutes were all deployed for the purposes of this exercise.
Commenting on the exercise, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer and operator of HIA, Akbar Al Baker, said: "Safety is paramount at Qatar Airways, and is at the heart of everything we do. We ensure that the best safety and emergency response practices are followed in all cases. Our staff are equipped with latest technology and adequate procedures to respond to any emergency at the airport".
Speaking from the HIA Emergency Operations Centre Al Baker commented: "It is an integral part of our operating procedures to hold exercises of this scale. We regularly conduct preparatory activities through which we train our staff to handle any incident to minimize damage and protect passengers and crew".
The objectives of the exercise included assessing the adequacy of plans and facilities during a major accident at the airport, including the communications, partner response, management of the site, casualty registration and transportation logistics.
Commenting on the exercise, Badr Al Meer, Hamad International Airport Chief Operating Officer, said: "I am proud to announce that Hamad International Airport’s Emergency Exercise Charlie Oryx 2015 took place seamlessly. The commitment and dedication of all agencies during the preparation and implementation of this exercise has been extremely impressive. This exercise has been a great opportunity for us all to learn and improve our emergency preparedness".
Ashish Jain, Qatar Airways Senior Vice President Group Safety & Security, said: "We are fully committed to developing cohesive safety and security methods and procedures to safeguard the airline and its hub, HIA. Testing our procedures today, provided a great sense of national pride and assurance that the airline and the airport are true leaders in the area of aviation safety and security".
The airline’s response was coordinated from the Qatar Airways' Group Emergency Control Centre (GECC), in the airline's headquarter buildings, and the airport's response was coordinated from the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) at Hamad International Airport, both of which are equipped with all the tools necessary to manage an incident.
Features include satellite communications, links to communicate with aircraft in-flight and media operations centers. Upon notification of the exercise, senior management gathered in the Group Command Centre at the Qatar Airways' headquarters to proactively prepare for the simulation of the exercise and activate the airline’s comprehensive procedures for deploying operations staff instantaneously.
To maintain the integrity of such emergency exercises, all the procedures that must be followed in emergencies were tested. For a more realistic experience, the virtual incident at Hamad International Airport was filmed and the Qatar Airways team dealt with simulated media questions and social media messages to demonstrate how such incidents are presented and how the media approach them.