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JakubH
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Contingency planning at major international airports

Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:32 am

This may be somewhat of a sensitive question, so I understand we may not get into great detail, but ...

How well-prepared are countries and airlines for contingencies that could put large parts of an airport out of order for a longer period of time? A few example scenarios that may not be too far-fetched:

- an earthquake hits Los Angeles/San Francisco and destroys two out of the four runways, with some damage to terminals
- a large fire destroys a large part of the terminal area at an airport like Heathrow/Schiphol/...
- a major storm/tsunami damages a coastal airport, such as Hong Kong Intl or Singapore Changi
- etc. etc.

While I hope there are disaster response plans to contain the immediate threat to life and property, I am mostly curious about:
- the speed at which temporary facilities/intermediate capacity can be stood up before permanent repairs are made (even if the luxury level is much more limited)
- the capacity of nearby airports to temporarily replace the function of a main international airport (e.g. in the cities named above - LA, SF, London, Amsterdam, HK, Singapore)
- the economic impact of a major suspension of airport operations on the regional/national economy (e.g. in the cities named above)
- the ability of the aviation industry to bypass a transit airport that is no longer available (e.g. in the cities named above)
- the ability of nearby cities/countries to accommodate a major airline that had a base at an affected airport (e.g. could BA move some of its operations to a few other European airports if Heathrow were affected, provided its aircraft were not damaged?)

If there are any studies on this or examples when this has happened, feel free to point me to the right direction! Thanks!
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less.
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Boof02671
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:39 am

Look up the earthquake at SFO.
 
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Dutchy
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:42 am

Don't know what you are looking for.
In the event of a large naturel catastrofe, the need to open the runways for emergency relieve operations must be top priority. After that, the city in question will need to rebuild as well, so no much tourist will come and not much regular business to conduct. So I guess the airport will be rebuild along site the city. You may want to look at the St. Maarten-case, destroyed by a hurricane and re-opened in a year or so at full strengt.

In case of a fire, I guess that they will cope as good as they can and it will depend on what part of the airport is damaged. Most fires will be local and only a small part of the terminal will be effected. Good fire prevention measures should be in place. So I guess the consequences of such an event will be limited.
Many happy landings, greetings from The Netherlands!
 
Andy33
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:49 am

In the case of LHR, while fire damage to a terminal would be extremely serious, the terminals are sufficiently far apart (in some cases extremely far apart) for there being no risk of fire spreading between them.
If you want a relatively recent example of fire damage and the reaction to it, Rome FCO would be a good example.
 
mxaxai
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:27 am

JakubH wrote:
If there are any studies on this or examples when this has happened, feel free to point me to the right direction! Thanks!

Some recent examples of natural catastrophes that come to mind are the tsunami that flooded Sendai airport, and a tropical storm that flooded Osaka Kansai airport (and critically damaged the bridge to the city). (IIRC 2011 and 2018, respectively)

Regarding fire, you may want to look at the fire at Dusseldorf airport in 1996.

For an economic impact study, the closure of European airspace during the eruption of an icelandic volcano may be interesting (IIRC 2010).
 
deltadudejg
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:36 am

Every airport is require to have an AEP, (Airport Emergency Plan). It covers all sorts of scenarios that may happen specific to that airport and area.
Aviation Enthusiast working in Airport Operations
 
FlyingColours
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Tue Apr 16, 2019 2:33 pm

I recall an airport where the runway had been effectively cut in half by a lava flow, the airport is still open but with a reduced length runway though I can't recall its name.

Phil
FlyingColours
Lifes a train racing towards you, now you can either run away or grab a chair & a beer and watch it come - Phil
 
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Aisak
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Tue Apr 16, 2019 2:38 pm

Look at SXF this morning. An aircraft landing blocked the runway in use. Solution: halt all airport operations. Incoming flights were diverted and check in was closed....

There is no plan for a 30min to 2hr runway closure.... or that was the really the plan (which wouldn’t shock me)

Asking for a long term plan (talking of generic contingencies) yeah, it can be a legal requirement but matching it with reality....
 
bennett123
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Tue Apr 16, 2019 2:50 pm

Flying Colours

Think you mean Goma in DRC.
 
Murdoughnut
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Tue Apr 16, 2019 2:53 pm

My Florida airport has a dedicated emergency department that develops plans each year for hurricane type events - plans that were carried out a few years ago during Hurricane Irma. We ended up closed for about three days - but this was an event that at least could be forecast several days in advance. But we have very detailed operational plans - employees who are essential and non-essential, assignments, priorities following passage, etc. Safety is the primary focus, getting the airport back up and running is #2.
 
blockski
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:37 pm

JakubH wrote:
This may be somewhat of a sensitive question, so I understand we may not get into great detail, but ...

How well-prepared are countries and airlines for contingencies that could put large parts of an airport out of order for a longer period of time? A few example scenarios that may not be too far-fetched:

- an earthquake hits Los Angeles/San Francisco and destroys two out of the four runways, with some damage to terminals
- a large fire destroys a large part of the terminal area at an airport like Heathrow/Schiphol/...
- a major storm/tsunami damages a coastal airport, such as Hong Kong Intl or Singapore Changi
- etc. etc.

While I hope there are disaster response plans to contain the immediate threat to life and property, I am mostly curious about:
- the speed at which temporary facilities/intermediate capacity can be stood up before permanent repairs are made (even if the luxury level is much more limited)
- the capacity of nearby airports to temporarily replace the function of a main international airport (e.g. in the cities named above - LA, SF, London, Amsterdam, HK, Singapore)
- the economic impact of a major suspension of airport operations on the regional/national economy (e.g. in the cities named above)
- the ability of the aviation industry to bypass a transit airport that is no longer available (e.g. in the cities named above)
- the ability of nearby cities/countries to accommodate a major airline that had a base at an affected airport (e.g. could BA move some of its operations to a few other European airports if Heathrow were affected, provided its aircraft were not damaged?)

If there are any studies on this or examples when this has happened, feel free to point me to the right direction! Thanks!


ICAO has a handbook on emergency planning, business continuity planning, etc.

https://cfapp.icao.int/tools/RSP_ikit/s ... NoPswd.pdf
 
COSPN
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:43 pm

Most USA airports also fund a reliever airport that can take a few planes GYY (Gary Indiana ) gets about $3 million a year from the City of Chicago in case of disruptions at MDW or ORD.
 
OB1504
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:52 pm

Murdoughnut wrote:
My Florida airport has a dedicated emergency department that develops plans each year for hurricane type events - plans that were carried out a few years ago during Hurricane Irma. We ended up closed for about three days - but this was an event that at least could be forecast several days in advance. But we have very detailed operational plans - employees who are essential and non-essential, assignments, priorities following passage, etc. Safety is the primary focus, getting the airport back up and running is #2.


Adding to that, a small group of “storm riders” typically remains on duty during the hurricane so they’ll already be on site once the weather clears and they can work on getting the airport reopened right away.

MIA was genuinely eerie without any airplanes parked at the gates and with the terminals completely empty at 2 PM on a Saturday.
 
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JakubH
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:50 am

COSPN wrote:
Most USA airports also fund a reliever airport that can take a few planes GYY (Gary Indiana ) gets about $3 million a year from the City of Chicago in case of disruptions at MDW or ORD.

Do you have a sense of how much ORD capacity GYY could replace? I cannot imagine it is very high - seems more of an access point for emergency services rather than a reliever airport for MDW and ORD? How do they spend the money?

Boof02671 wrote:
Look up the earthquake at SFO.

It did not seem to affect airport operations in an extreme way, per this document: http://resilience.abag.ca.gov/wp-conten ... roblem.pdf


San Francisco International Airport (SFO) was over 35 miles from the fault source for the Loma Prieta earthquake. Although operations at SFO officially halted for one night, this was not due to any significant damage to the facilities or the runways. The control tower sustained window and non-structural damage, and some unanchored equipment was broken, but this did not prevent the tower from operating. The primary reason for the shutting down of flights during that night was that not enough controllers were available to operate the tower safely. The runways (built on fill), navigational equipment, runway lights, fuel tanks, and piping were mostly unaffected. However, liquefaction (a process where loose water-saturated sands temporarily behave like a liquid when shaken) shifted some small support structures. Lost power was restored within 3 hours, well before the time the airport was reopened. Nonstructural damage occurred in the terminals, but did not cause the airport to be shut down. Damage to an air cargo building was significant, and problems transpired with a power transformer, but these were remedied over time without air operations being affected. There were no problems with access road failures or freeway closures within the immediate vicinity of this airport that contributed to closure. However the ability of the controllers to travel to work safely and quickly was an issue (EERI, 1990).



deltadudejg wrote:
Every airport is require to have an AEP, (Airport Emergency Plan). It covers all sorts of scenarios that may happen specific to that airport and area.


I guess that's more focused on emergency airport operations rather than replacing the airport capacity if damaged, right? As an example, I found this for LAX: https://www.lawa.org/-/media/lawa-web/t ... F9BBB17F99

Andy33 wrote:
In the case of LHR, while fire damage to a terminal would be extremely serious, the terminals are sufficiently far apart (in some cases extremely far apart) for there being no risk of fire spreading between them.
If you want a relatively recent example of fire damage and the reaction to it, Rome FCO would be a good example.

Thank you, this is useful. It seems like the full airport closure lasted only a day (per Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ital ... 8V20150507 ) so impact was somewhat limited.


This is more of a niche question, but is insurance available to airports to cover more than the immediate emergency (e.g. building damage due to fire) but also the economic impacts of a major airport outage?
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less.
C. S. Lewis
 
russyyz
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:42 am

Check out some of the Caribbean airports after last year's hurricanes. I believe SXM (St. Maarten) had to build a tent terminal to process everyone but that took several days.
Quiet 2018: YYZ-YVR-SEA-SFO-FLL-YYZ; CLE-ORD-YYZ; YYZ-LHR-YYZ; YYZ-BOS-YTZ; YYZ-YUL-YTZ; YYZ-YYB-YYZ
Even quieter 2019: YYZ-ATL-HAV-ATL-YYZ; YTZ-YUL; YYZ-YOW-YTZ; YUL-YTZ
 
Tenaja85
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:29 am

Aisak wrote:
Look at SXF this morning. An aircraft landing blocked the runway in use. Solution: halt all airport operations. Incoming flights were diverted and check in was closed....

There is no plan for a 30min to 2hr runway closure.... or that was the really the plan (which wouldn’t shock me)

Asking for a long term plan (talking of generic contingencies) yeah, it can be a legal requirement but matching it with reality....


This is also what happened at YYZ about a month ago... flights were canceled and diverted due to a fire in Terminal 1:
https://globalnews.ca/news/5066396/toro ... erminal-1/
 
JHwk
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:48 am

Good policy is more about having access to resources rather than specific plans. For various engineering jobs, I had to carry client cards that listed escalation protocols and contacts, “get out of jail free” resource card to get through roadblocks, along with a handful of contact people and companies that emergency rental equipment could be coordinated. Some of them did annual or triennial drills with teams, but that has mostly gone away.

When it comes to things like runways, I would expect the airport to be able to self-serve on patch repairs to a certain point, and beyond that have a contractor that can provide emergency response for things like Asiana at SFO. With fires, you would also typically have a flood/fire cleanup team on speed dial for anything significant. For window damage, the same holds for a emergency repair shop— STL was patched up pretty quickly after the tornadoes hit as an example, although long-term repairs will lag significantly.
 
blueflyer
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:59 am

JHwk hit the nail on the head. There are so many potential disasters each one with multitude of characteristics impacting operations differently, that detailed planning is impossible. Good contingency planning is all about having the right contacts for a multitude of circumstances, and a few basic plans. When BRU was closed for two weeks due to a terrorist attack, airport management did not take out the Terrorism-Related Closure binder out of a drawer and start reading from page 1. What they had was a plan to designate three teams, one for the immediate needs (planes were headed for BRU, where were they going to land, how were pax going to make it to BRU), short-term needs (alternate/temporary facilities) and long-term needs (repair and reopen). Each team had objectives and stakeholders, and came up with their own game plan based on the circumstances they were facing. For the immediate and short-term needs teams, one of the most useful documents early on was a directory of surrounding airport managers' and vendors' phone numbers to confirm gate and apron space, capacity of ground handlers, available ground transportation, etc.

Brussels Airlines was more or less organized in a similar way. There were teams responsible for resuming operations from airports big and small around BRU, and teams responsible for coordinating with airport management, to figure out the airline's schedule as the airport was re-opening in steps. While they had very basic plans, so many circumstances were beyond their control that they had no choice but to make it up as they went.
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BartSimpson
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:24 am

Here

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%BCsseldorf_Airport_fire

is an example of a severe fire which destroyed almost the whole terminal complex. It happened at DUS in 1996.
 
YIMBY
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:13 am

Andy33 wrote:
In the case of LHR, while fire damage to a terminal would be extremely serious, the terminals are sufficiently far apart (in some cases extremely far apart) for there being no risk of fire spreading between them.
If you want a relatively recent example of fire damage and the reaction to it, Rome FCO would be a good example.


Even a small fire in a critical location might hamper safety and security. If it also reveals a potential hazard in other parts it may make all the terminal or even airport unusable, if only for bureaucratic reasons. Short-term temporary solutions may neither be acceptable. (cf Berlin).
 
wiss
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:39 pm

In Chile we had an M8.8 earthquake in 2010. The terminal at SCL suffered serious damage, including the collapse of the ceiling inside the check-in hall. Thankfully it was at 3:34 AM, had it been during daytime, probably there would have been dozens of fatalities in the airport.

The civilian part of SCL was shut down for 2 or 3 days. Only the Air Force base located within it was operational during this period.

After that period SCL resumed operations on a limited basis, with tents being set up as a temporary terminal. The main problem was that the immigration and customs facilities couldn't operate on such tents. So, in order to keep the international flights operating as normally as possible, the flights to and from AKL and SYD made a stop in PUQ or PMC, where the passengers were disembarked to pass through immigration on those airports, and then reboarded the planes to continue the flights. Of course with PMC and PUQ being much smaller than SCL, this was a lengthy process.

Also, the international flights to the rest of South America, North America and Europe made the same kind of stops in airports like ANF and IQQ. The repairs in SCL were completed after a couple of weeks.
 
c933103
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Re: Contingency planning at major international airports

Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:06 pm

Was there any specific policy dictating different authorities what to do when some Texas airports were flooded last year?

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