Contingency Planning – Aircraft Emergency Responses

[Ref AVIA4020 Lesson 6]

6 basic components of aircraft emergency responses:

  1. accident site management
  2. casualty management
  3. non-injured management
  4. family & friends management
  5. media management
  6. command, control & communications management

Accident site management

Major tasks at accident site include:

  • facilities rescue & fire fighting (RFF)
    • rescue of survivors
    • fire suppression

Notes: Rescue leader‘s Rapid Intervention Vehicle (RIV) is identified by green and yellow pennant

  • bring order and efficiency to site response
    • set up cordon lines (inner and outer) – usually carried out by police
    • establish site command & control units
    • define various areas (deploy tents) – site flow management

Remember: evacuate to and set up areas upwind of the aircraft – upwind position!

Reasons include:

  • prevent further danger & damage to life and property
  • preserve site for post-accident investigation


ICAO suggests 6 areas should be defined at the scene:

  1. accident site
  2. command post
  3. collection area
  4. triage area
  5. care area
  6. transportation area

Again: evacuate to and set up areas upwind of the aircraft – upwind position! 


Collection area is set up at upwind position with safe distance away from the accident site.

Collection area is set up for headcount process and casualty management.


Care area refers to medical giving area – it is not only supported by the paramedics from FSD or doctors from HA, it also has trained attendants from Auxiliary Medical Service and St John Ambulance.


Casualty management

Major tasks of casualty management include:

  • triage
  • information dissemination

Reasons include:

  • triage is needed since resources might be insufficient for all to be treated at once and so prioritize patients could provide medical care for those who need it immediately while it could be helpful in non-injured separation & care
  • information sharing between RFF and correlated responding parties at the site as well as relaying back to command centers are necessary for the whole emergency response process


Non-injured management

Major tasks of non-injured management include:

  • CIQ (Customs, Immigration & Quarantine)
  • DVR (disaster victim registration)
  • reconciliation with families
  • humanitarian assistance


  • humanitarian assistance ≠ counseling !!!
  • humanitarian assistance  – is kind of psychological first-aid – provide a quite place to sit, provide warmth, food and drink – make the subjects
  • counseling – is provided for those who are unable to cope with their traumatic experiences in the aftermath of the accident – usually carries out by doctor


Reasons include:

  • non-injured passenger could be witness, who can provide information about the accident as well as “witness testimony”
  • some non-injured passenger may be arranged for other flight and their journey will be onward then
  • some may need help about psychological first-aid since they may be threatening and are susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • some may be local resident and have their families and friends awaiting them


Family & friends management

Major tasks of family & friends management include:

  • information updates on passenger status and location
  • reconciliation with passenger
  • humanitarian assistance

In Hong Kong, the Family Reception Center (FRC) at a hotel near the airport will be set-up & manned within 2 hours of activation.

The personnel inside the FRC include but not limiting to: Airline/GHA, Police & AVESCO, Red Cross, St John, Airport Authority.

In general, the FRC’s working procedures is common but the procedures is set by individual airlines and GHA.


Media management

Major tasks of media management include:

  • proactive & immediate contact with media – print, TV, radio, social media – both national and international
  • disseminate key message for different stakeholders/ responding parties – including AA, Police, FSD, CAD, Information Service Department (ISD) of the government, airlines, GHA
  • monitor and correct misrepresentation

Reasons include:

  • different department and parties need the information for their operations and deployment
  • relay correct information to general public – lessen the negative effect or secondary crisis


Command, control & communications management

Major tasks of command, control & communications management include:

  • manage resources
  • oversee business continuity
  • oversee business recovery
  • manage the crisis


On-site command and control units have different major tasks similar to what we discuss in accident site management:

  • coordinate search and rescue (SAR)
  • coordinate fire suppression
  • monitor access control of cordon lines
  • consolidate and manage on-site resources
  • collate (collect and combine) and relay on-site information back to off-site control center

Usually, FSD (RFF)’s 1st common unit is set up inside the inner cordon line while the Airport Mobile Liaison Center (AMLC), FSD (RFF)’s 2nd common unit, Police’s command post are set up between outer and inner cordon line.


Off-site command and control unit, the Airport Emergency Center (AEC) in HKIA for example, is active and located in the Integrated Airport Center (IAC) – it has various components:

  1. Crisis Management Team
  2. Stakeholders – at the round-desk work station
  3. Support Team
  4. Media Work Room
  5. Breakout Meeting Room


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