This article has been divided into 4 parts:

  1. Aim
  2. Types of Emergencies
  3. Roles of Agencies/Authorities involved
  4. Conclusion

1. Aim

The purpose of this document is to make the reader aware of different kinds of emergencies on/off airport and to provide a brief knowledge on response of different agencies and services, both on and off the aerodrome, to handle various aircraft and non-aircraft related emergencies anticipated at any Airport. This document also spells out the duties and responsibilities of the various authorities/agencies associated with handling of airport/aircraft emergencies.

2. Types of emergencies:

 1.Aircraft accident “ON” the airport
 2.Aircraft accident “OFF” the airport
 3.Full emergency
 4.Local standby
 5.In-flight mass casualties
 6.Fire on aircraft on ground
 7.Dangerous goods accidents/incidents
 8.Natural disaster
 9.Removal/recovery of disabled aircraft on the aerodrome
 10.Fire on the ground (Airport building and installations)
 11.CBRN emergency

2.1 Aircraft accident “ON” the airport

Action initiated when an aircraft accident has occurred on the airfield within the airport boundary.

The Air Traffic Controller shall activate the Crash alarm immediately if one of the following events occurs:

  • When the aircraft accident is sighted by the Air Traffic Controller or is reported to the Air Traffic Control by any of the reliable sources such as the FWT (Fire Watch tower)or “Follow-Me” vehicles plying in the aircraft movement area.
  • During poor visibility when the Air Traffic Controller is unable to sight the runway, and the aircraft, which has been cleared for take-off or landing, fails to respond to the Air Traffic Control’s repeated calls or the inputs from other sources have indicated that the aircraft might have met with an accident.
  • When the aircraft has been cleared to land and fails to land within 5 minutes of the estimated time of landing and the communication with the pilot is not able to be re-established or the inputs from other sources have indicated that the aircraft might have met with an accident.
  • The location of the accident may be notified using the grid map to point out the exact location for other agencies to respond. Below is an example of grid map of Delhi Airport.
This image shows the area of Delhi international airport within the boundary on a grid map.

2.2 Aircraft accident ‘’OFF’’ airport

Action initiated when an aircraft Accident has occurred outside the airport boundary, but within vicinity of the Airport as decided by the airport operator and local authority.

This image shows the area in the vicinity of Delhi international airport

2.3 Full Emergency

An Emergency declared “when an aircraft approaching the airport is known, or is suspected to be, in such trouble that there is imminent danger of an accident”. The decision to declare Full Emergency rests with the Air Traffic Control.

This image shows an aircraft with one engine down

2.4 Local Standby

Local Standby is declared when an aircraft approaching the Aerodrome is known or is suspected to have developed some defect but the trouble is not such as would normally involve any serious difficulty in effecting a safe landing. The decision to declare Local standby for an aircraft emergency rests with Air Traffic Control

2.5 Inflight Mass Casualty

An emergency situation when mass casualties onboard will usually result from incidents such as an encounter with severe air turbulence during flight or mass food poisoning. The pilot-in-command shall be responsible for notifying the nearest appropriate authority by the quickest available means of any accident involving his aircraft which results in serious injury or death to any person or substantial damage to the aircraft or property.

2.6 Fire on Aircraft on ground

An aircraft can catch fire whilst it is taxing in the movement area or parked at an aerobridge or remote bay. Such a scenario can arise from a defect or malicious act, and may develop into a major disaster. The resources required to mitigate are thus identical to that of an aircraft accident on the airport. This chapter outlines the procedures to be adopted by the agencies concerned under such circumstances. When the aircraft on ground fire is sighted by the Air Traffic Controller or the sighting is reported to the Air Traffic Control by any reliable source, the Air Traffic Control shall activate the ARFF through the Crash Alarm/Hot Line/RT.

This image shows an aircraft into flames at a stand

2.7 Dangerous Goods accidents incident

Dangerous goods are defined as “articles or substances which are capable of posing a significant risk to health, property or environment when exposed or if the packaging is in an unsafe condition”. Such goods are classified under the following general heading:

Class 1Explosives
Class 2Compressed and Liquefied Gases
Class 3Flammable Liquids
Class 4Flammable Solids
Class 5Oxidizing Substances and Organic Peroxides
Class 6Poisonous (Toxic) and Infectious Substances
Class 7Radioactive Materials
Class 8Corrosives
Class 9Miscellaneous  
This image shows Placards related to different Classes of Dangerous Goods

If an aircraft involved in an accident is carrying dangerous goods, the aircraft operator or ground handling Agency concerned shall notify the ATC as soon as such information on the presence of dangerous goods is known. The ATC shall relay the information to the FWT (fire watch tower) concerned and AOCC. The aircraft operator or ground handling agency concerned shall also arrange for the Information to Captain to be made available to the OC/SC concerned at the accident site, as soon as possible.

Similarly, once a Local Standby or a Full Emergency is declared, the aircraft operator or ground handling agency concerned shall immediately notify the ATC of the presence of dangerous goods, if any. The ATC shall relay the information to the FWT concerned and AOCC.

2.8 Natural Disaster

A “Disaster” means a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or manmade causes, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of property or degradation of environment and is of such a nature of magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area.

Because of the unique nature of this type emergencies and its potential for involving a wide geographic area and potentially limiting the availability of resources, there may be a need for adjusting and coordinating the resources management and mutual aid.

Note State will activate the disaster management plan.

2.9 Removal/recovery of disabled aircraft on aerodrome

Aircraft may become immobilized or disabled on an aerodrome for a number of reasons, ranging from bursting of tires to crash landing.

Aircraft Rules 2012 (Investigation of Accidents and Incidents)– For the purpose   of Investigation of Aircraft Accidents, Central Government has set up an independent Bureau under Ministry of Civil Aviation known as Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau. In case of aircraft involved in an accident or serious incident shall not, except under the authority of the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau, be removed or otherwise interfered with provided that, subject to compliance with the provisions of Rule 7 of the Aircraft Rules, 2012 (investigation of an accident and incident)

This image shows how a disabled aircraft is being removed by the help of restrains, airbags, etc..

NOTE In the absence of the aircraft owner, operator or its authorized representative, will take actions to initiate the removal at the sole expense, so that operations can start soon. Further the expense can be procured as mentioned in the MoUs.

2.10 On Ground fire involving airport building and installations

Fire may occur at any of the airport installations and buildings. If out of control, such a fire may cripple the key airport facilities and disrupt the normal airport operations. This chapter outlines the general procedures to be followed by the parties concerned during such a fire occurrence.

During a fire occurrence, however small it may appear to be, any person discovering it shall, raise the fire alarm via the nearest manual call point. If, no manual call point is available, raise the alarm by other available means.

Inform the ARFF (aircraft rescue and firefighting) immediately of the exact location of the fire.

This image shows fire at an aerodrome due to which aircrafts are at risk

On receipt of a structural fire call, the FWT (fire watch tower) Supervisor shall request the caller to provide the following details:

  1. Location of fire
  2. Type of fire
  3. Name of caller
  4. Telephone number of callers.

2.11 CBRN (biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear elements)

An emergency arisen out of any accidental/manmade disaster involving biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear elements in the airport. This will include the terrorist activity involving CBRN agents/war heads.

Terrorist or anti-social elements may use Chemical, Biological, radiological or Nuclear material to have maximum human loss, disruption of airport activities and for maximum publicity.

The resources at the airport are not sufficiently equipped to handle such a major disaster. During a CBRN disaster, the person discovering it shall, raise the alarm and intimate AOCC/Fire watch tower through any available means

This image shows that extra care is necessary with CBRN materials

3. Roles of agencies/authorities involved

To handle emergencies at airport efficiently, the role and responsibility of various organizations/agencies have been well defined to mitigate an airport crisis depending on the nature of emergency. The key functions of organizations/ agencies are as follows:

3.1 Aircraft rescue and fire fighting department

This image shows a CFT performing a recue operation
  1. Aircraft Rescue & Firefighting
  2. Support in triage activities
  3. Structural firefighting, rescue & evacuation
  4. Activation of MCP (Mobile Command Post)
  5. Respond to dangerous goods accidents/incidents
  6. Assist in Medical First Aid
  7. Arrange video footage & photograph till SIC ( (report at site

3.2 Airport operations control centre

  1. Dissemination of aircraft accident message through phone/auto call as per the activation list.
  2. Control and coordination with all agencies till CMC (crisis management centre) is established.
  3. Intimate INMAS (institute of nuclear medicine &allied Science) and MHA (ministry of health affair) control room in case of CBRN emergencies.
  4. Activate Radiation Assessment Committee for CBRN emergencies.
  5. Coordinate operations with ATC, as required
  6. Inform AAIB (aircraft accident investigation bureau) about aircraft accidents on & off airport
  7. Coordinate with ATC for priority landing/take-off for the aircraft coming/going with disaster relief facilities to and from various locations.

3.3 Airport duty manager

  1. Inform CEO and COO.
  2. Function as Chairman of CMC (crisis management committee) till COO takes over.
  3. Coordinate operations with AOCC and On-Scene Commander.
  4. Will function as the Chairman of the Radiation Assessment Committee.
  5. Will be member of Salvage Committee headed by Head – Airside Management.

3.4 Airside operations / Apron control

This image shows how airside is monitored and managed
  1. Shall inform Head – Airside Operations.
  2. Provide “Follow Me” to all external Emergency services i.e., Ambulances, state fire service vehicles etc, reported at RVP (rendezvous point), to the accident site and back.
  3. Provide inputs to Air Traffic Control with regard to runway and/or taxiway closure.
  4. Initiation of NOTAM (notice to airman) action as required.
  5. Dispatch “Follow Me” to inspect the alternate runway and report its availability to the Tower Supervisor.
  6. Provide and direct ground services support to the incident site.
  7. Ensure completion of necessary airport inspections upon emergency termination.
  8. Restoration of aircraft movement area for operations.
  9. Coordinate aircraft recovery and salvage operations.

3.5 Operations duty mamager

  1. Take over charge of On-Scene Commander at Mobile Command Post.
  2. Establish all staging areas.
  3. Designate Transport Officer for Transport staging area.
  4. Provide any assistance required by Doctors at the Triage Area.
  5. Arrange speedy evacuation of injured casualties (Priority 1 and Priority 2) to the hospitals.
  6. Liaise with airline concerned to transport the uninjured/Priority 3 casualties to the SRC (survival reception centre).
  7. Liaise with CMC (crisis management committee) regarding   requirement of medical teams, ambulances and fire vehicle.
  8. Establish communication and appraise all development at incident site to CMC.
  9. Record the sequence of incidents/activities in the log book in chronological order

3.6 Head airside operations manager

On arrival at the site will take over the charge of On-scene Commander.

3.7 Terminal management

This image shows passenger flow in a terminal
  1. Set-up the SRC (survival reception centre), FFRC (friends family reception centre), and RA (Reunion area).
  2. Reception and care of uninjured passengers at SRC
  3. Reception and facilitation of Passengers, Friends and Relatives at FRRC and RA.
  4. Public information announcements at FRRC and RA
  5. Passenger facilitation and business restoration at Terminal buildings
  6. Support in Terminal building evacuation

3.8 Project and engineering team

  1. Provide emergency lightings, technical support and assistance at accident site.
  2. If accident area is inaccessible, make provision for movement of rescue and emergency vehicles in reaching the site.
  3. Provide support in recovery of disabled aircraft.

3.9 Head facilities and management / Terminal

  1. Arrange refreshments and water at the accident site.
  2. Maintaining and provisioning of utility services for rescuers and passengers at the site.
  3. Guide the media persons and vehicle to the Media Centre i.e., Auditorium.

3.10 IT department

  1. Provision     of    necessary    communication                   equipment          (Landline              phones, Computer, Printer) and link between the various emergency centers.
  2. Ensure redundant communication facility.

3.11 Safety and complaince

  1. Support “Follow Me” services and On-scene Commander in managing Transport staging area.
  2. Head Safety and Enforcement will function as SIC for accident investigation as per DGCA Air Safety Circular No 4 of 2013.

3.12 Corporate communications

  1. Draft press releases related to airport emergency/ accident in coordination with Airlines and CMC (crisis management centre).
  2. Interface with the Media.

3.13 Cargo

  1. Provide HAZMAT (hazardous materials) expertise during dangerous goods accidents/incidents.
  2. The HAZMAT expert to function as member of Dangerous Good Assessment committee during dangerous good related emergencies.
This image shows how cargo is packed and secured

3.14 Air traffic services

  1. Relay emergency message to Fire Watch Tower and AOCC through speech and siren or through Hotline,
  2. Intimate state fire service for assistance.
  3. Notify Fire Watch Tower, AOCC about the presence of dangerous goods, if any on board the aircraft involved in an accident.
  4. Air traffic management including issuing of NOTAM.
  5. Convey message on Activation and Termination of Accident, Full Emergency, Local Standby, etc.
  6. Information to Rescue Coordination Centre for “Off Airport Accident”.
  7. Provide priority landing/take-off for the aircraft coming/going with disaster relief facilities to and from various locations.

3.15 State fire services

  1. Support Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting services in “On Airport Accident”.
  2. Play lead role in Rescue and Fire Fighting in case of “Off Airport Accident”.
  3. Support triage activities.
  4. Play lead role in Structural and Building firefighting and evacuation.
  5. Help in Mitigation of dangerous good accident/incident.
  6. Support post-accident fire investigation related to building fire.

3.16 External hospitals

  1. Doctors/Paramedics/Ambulances report to designated RVP and proceed to the accident site under the escort of “Follow Me”.
  2. On reaching at emergency site, report to the Medical Coordinator.
  3. Advise the CMC on the availability of Facilities such as beds, operation theatres and intensive care units.
  4. Inform the CMC about casualties received at the hospitals.

3.17 APHO

This image shows APHO functioning amid Covid
  1. On arrival at the accident site, report to the Medical Coordinator.
  2. Respond with teams and ambulances for immediate and effective evacuation of victims to appropriate hospitals.
  3. Provide triage, medical and CARE functions at the accident site.
  4. Transportation of critically injured from the accident site to the hospitals after stabilizing
  5. Collate the casualty information such as Priority 1, Priority 2, Priority 3 and Priority 0 and number of casualties sent to hospital from the crash site.
  6. Coordinate with all the medical services responding at crash site for triage.
  7. Coordinate with health and medical response team at the crash site.
  8. Make arrangement for quarantine in case of health emergency.
  9. Advise the CMC (crisis management centre) on the availability of facilities such as beds, operation theatres and intensive care beds at various hospitals.

3.18 Airline / Airport doctors and Pannel doctors

  1. On notification of an aircraft accident, report to the designated RVP or directly to the accident site.
  2. On arrival at the accident site, report to the Medical Coordinator.
  3. Provide medical assistance and triage the casualties at accident site.
  4. Provide medical assistance at SRC.

3.19 Medical officers

  1. On notification of aircraft accident, report to the designated RVP or directly at the site.
  2. Support Medical Coordinator at the accident site.

3.20 CMO (Chief Medical Officer)

  1. On notification of aircraft accident activate medical response team to report to the designated RVP.
  2. Provide ambulances for immediate and effective evacuation of victims to appropriate hospitals.
  3. Assume the charge of Medical Coordinator in “Off Airport Accidents”.
  4. Provide Medical Assistance and triage the casualty at accident site

3.21 Centralized amublance trauma service

  1. Upon activation, report to the designated RVP with Doctor/paramedics.
  2. Proceed to the triage area at the accident site guided by “Follow Me”.
  3. Carry the Casualty to the hospital as directed by Medical Coordinator.

3.22 Central industrial security force (CISF)

  1. Opening of respective gate for activation of RVP.
  2. Cordoning of accident site.
  3. Coordinate and provide support to the On-Scene Commander at MCP.
  4. Facilitate the access of emergency services to the accident site.
  5. Allow outward movement of ambulances through the designated gate/RVP.
  6. Ensure availability of a senior official in MCP.
  7. Provide help to medical team at the Triage Area.
  8. Ensure availability of a senior official in CMC.
  9. Provide security arrangements at all Emergency Centers, CMC and Media centre.
  10. Ensure that the wreckage/debris and belongings of passengers and crew are not disturbed/moved from the accident site till DGCA/AAIB permits.
  11. Escort the Cabin Crew and Cockpit Crew to the Airport Medical Centre for toxicological and biological test.
  12. Support rescue team in handling the casualty.
  13. Open the crash gate for the movement of CFTs in case of “Off Airport crash”.

3.23 Police

This image shows police securing the site at an aerodrome
  1. Support security, crowd control and traffic control at the accident site (Off Airport), terminal building.
  2. Cordoning off accident site in case of “Off Airport Accident”.
  3. Preservation of evidence at the accident site including eye witness accounts and photography.
  4. Investigation and conducting inquest of deceased, establishment, mortuary arrangements and release of dead bodies as per DGCA Air Safety Circular 06 of 2010.
  5. Make arrangements for medical examination of live Cockpit Crew members as well as the autopsy of the deceased crew members and passengers.

3.24 Traffuc police

Traffic control and regulation in the landside area for the responding support vehicle at RVPs

3.25 Airline

  1. Ensure availability of a senior official at MCP on activation.
  2. Provide ground service staff and facilities including passenger step ladders, coaches and aircraft towing equipment.
  3. Provide staff to manage SRC, FRRC and RA and facilitate reunion of survivors and NOK (next of kin).
  4. Provide staff at various hospitals for tracking & facilitating of casualty coming to the respective hospitals.
  5. Media management/press release.
  6. Provide collated information to CMC regarding the number of casualties admitted at hospitals.
  7. Support overall crisis mitigation efforts, e.g. counting of passengers, management of NOK, aircraft accident investigation etc.
  8. Report the aircraft accident or serious incident to the authorities concerned as stipulated under Aircraft Rules, 2012, Investigation of accidents.
  9. Coordinate with Police in handing over the dead bodies to the NOK of the deceased.
  10. Ensure removal of wrecked or disabled aircraft as soon as authorized by appropriate authorities.

3.26 Aviation services

  1. Liaise with SOCC (survival operations control centre) for activation of RVP gate.
  2. Issue of temporary Airport Entry Passes to the supporting emergency services responding to emergencies.
  3. Facilitate the movement of supporting agencies to the accident site with help of Airside Operation.
  4. Maintain the record of movement of emergency services through RVP.

3.27 Immigration department

Immigration control and passenger clearance facilitation for international flights becomes a very tidious job during an emergency because passengers are not in a state to cooperate with the process involved.

3.28 Custom department

Custom control and passenger clearance facilitation which becomes a very tidious job during an emergency because passengers are not in a state to cooperate with the process involved.

3.29 Metrological department

Ensure provision of official weather report and other records likely to be of use in inquiry into the cause of accident.

3.30 State disaster managemnet association

  1. Give direction to different hospitals and ambulance providers to respond to the accident/incident site.
  2. Activate NDRF (National disaster response force), Civil Defense Warden of SDMA (state disaster management association) at the district level and CDMO for integrating measures for mitigation of the impact of accident.
  3. Extend resources available with SDMA for early normalization and resumption of airport operation.
  4. Intimate AOCC about the resources/assistance required from airport for attending disasters occurred at “Off-airport”.

4. Conclusion

Exact prediction of any kind of emergencies at an airport is not possible but preparedness for it, to mitigate the effect of it is surely possible. So, it becomes the responsibility of all the concerned agencies and authorities to readily and willingly participate in all drills and exercises conducted for the proper functioning of the airport because the ultimate goal is that “operations should not stop”.

The End

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