The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) is launching a new template for an emergency response plan that it wants to encourage operators to adopt. The plan will be introduced here at EBACE tomorrow afternoon at a briefing on emergency response planning scheduled for 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The EBAA steering committee that drew up the draft plan includes London law firm and consultancy Gates & Partners, Dassault, FlightSafety International and Swiss-based charter operator VistaJet. The plan is to be presented here in Geneva by a Gates top aviation attorney, Aoife O’Sullivan, and one of its consultants, Ron Lindsay, who headed British Airways’ security and was in that position during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
At the recent annual conference of the British Business and General Aviation Association, Lindsay reminded operators that implementation of an emergency response plan will be part of ICAO’s pending requirement for operators to have a safety management system. Emergency response plans already are part of the International Standards for Business Aircraft Operations introduced by the International Business Aviation Council.
“Accidents will always happen no matter how safety-conscious we are,” Lindsay told the conference. “Regulatory compliance does not ensure safety and a zero-accident rate is not realistic. Events are not within your control partly because the media is involved in conditioning how the public responds to your organization. Your organization will be under a microscope [in the event of an aircraft accident] and you must have a media plan because, if not, you will be under unnecessary pressure and stress.”
The EBAA steering group did a survey to find how much of the business aviation community already has an emergency response plan and how it views emergencies. It found that 66.7 percent of respondents, most of which were aircraft operators and FBOs, do have emergency response plans endorsed by their boards of directors, but that “not enough” of them have nominated a specific individual to be responsible in the event of an emergency.
The survey also found that 45 percent of companies that have an emergency response plan never rehearse emergency action. Only 12 percent said they rehearse once every six months, which Lindsay endorsed, and 27 percent do so annually. “You need to be able to respond to an emergency right out of bed on a Sunday morning,” Lindsay said, adding that most companies surveyed have not done enough to prepare their employees to deal with emergencies.