Aviation Emergency Exercises

The legislation.

Emergency Response Exercises are a legislated requirement for all Certified Aerodromes. This is not surprising as a review of all commercial aviation accidents that occurred in the ten years between 2008 and 2018 indicates that out of 207 commercial aviation accidents, 78 (37%) occurred within the confines of the aerodrome.

In accordance with Civil Aviation Regulations 1998 under the Civil Aviation Act 1988, Regulation 139.210 certified aerodromes are required to develop an Aerodrome emergency plan and test that plan in line with the regulation and the MOS for Part 139 which states:

139.210 Aerodrome Emergency Plan

(1) The aerodrome emergency committee for a certified aerodrome must prepare an aerodrome emergency plan.

(2) The plan must include:

            procedures for coordinating the responses of all emergency service organisations referred to in the plan; and

            any other matters that are required to be included in the emergency plan by the Manual of Standards.

(3) The committee must review the emergency plan at least once a year and make any changes to the plan that are necessary to ensure that it operates properly.

(4) The review must be carried out in consultation with the emergency service organisations referred to in the emergency plan.

The MOS Part 139 Aerodromes Chapter 10, Section 10.7 Aerodrome Emergency Planning confirms this requirement.

Section 10.8 Aerodrome Emergency Exercises. Regulation places a requirement on Aerodrome license holders that they “should conduct ‘table-top’ exercises involving the Aerodrome Emergency Committee annually or whenever there is a change of major participants, provided such exercises do not conflict with the full-scale or specialty exercises”.

Regulation dictates that “experience to be gained from exercises should be shared by inviting other aerodrome license holders to attend as observers. Operators of major aerodromes should notify the relevant pilot and cabin attendant staff associations of each planned emergency exercise to enable representatives of those organisations to observe the exercise and participate in the review should they so desire”


Our Computer Simulated Emergency Response Exercises [tabletop exercises]

How our simulation works.

Simulation can been used in the planning for emergencies on aerodromes in two ways:

  • to assist the Aviation Fire Fighters and other emergency responders in dealing with the incident that is unfolding; and,
  • assist the Emergency Committee work through their emergency plan [typically used for walk through/talk through of the plan]

Modern systems are now capable of so much more. To get the most benefit from the simulation and ensure we are as prepared as we can be we should break the use of simulation into three stages.

Stage 1 – The simulation is used by emergency responders to work together to ensure they are ready to deploy to a wide range of incidents. During this stage, vital communication methods between multiple agencies are established and become familiar, vehicle positioning and incident management team roles are defined and rehearsed, and the agencies become familiar with a range of incidents that would be impracticable to execute as a full-scale response activity, and any additional capability requirements that may be required.

Stage 2 – The simulation system is used in conjunction with our other systems as a tool for an Airport Emergency Committee to prepare for an emergency. During this stage we run multiple scenarios where emergency services still respond, but in view of the emergency committee. This is vital as the committee is then able to work on efficiency within their organization and they gain a detailed understanding of the incident management teams roles, when they are busy, and when they have a little spare time to relay important messages or pick up additional duties. The ability to draw on additional capabilities is also tested and witnessed by airport operations staff. Aside from the use of the response simulation, we introduce simulation workstations that aim to assist in determining how the incident will impact critical airport operations. These additional systems include the appropriate response to media inquiries and public communication. We prepare your communication officers through the use of a virtual media conference and a virtual public address. In this phase your staff are completely immersed in the environment through the use of VR googles and can work on strategies for addressing such issues. The bulk of the emergency plan is also tested to ensure it is efficient as it would be in a traditional tabletop exercise. During this stage aerodrome staff also refine their handover procedures with responding police. 

Stage 3 – Stage 3 is a culmination of all the hard work put into stage 1 and 2. Traditionally a tabletop exercise tests a plan, but not the staff response. This traditional method does little to prepare your staff for success should an incident occur. The idea with stage 3 is to test the staff and the plan. During stage 3, a simulation scenario is launched through a shared screen with the ATC. The ATC is then able to alert the airport that an incident is unfolding and the Aerodrome Emergency Committee is able to act on the information provided. The simulated response then plays out with feeds from emergency services in real time through our system. This is open ended, so it is testing the response by various members of the incident command team. Concurrently, we begin to test airport operations staff and the Aerodrome Emergency Committee. This will again include the use of scripted media reports that require the aerodrome communications officers or liaisons to draft media talking points and deliver a press releasde through VR, along with public addresses to airport visitors, airline operations, family and friends. This is all conducted through the use of our stand alone VR system.

At the conclusion of this activity you will witness the following outputs:

  • Your emergency plan is revised and tested meeting legislative requirements,
  • Your staff are intimate with the plan and are postured ready for success,
  • Coordination and cooperation between your aerodrome emergency committee and emergency response agencies is enhanced,
  • Your airport community is resilient as you are able to return to business as usual at a rapid pace.

Upon completion of the activity you are provided with relevant footage of the simulated response, along with key points you wish to raise. This is prefect for staff professional development and lessons learnt are easily shared with the aviation community and emergency response agencies at your discretion.

Benefits of Simulation. 

It requires little staff effort by your organization to prepare. After a few meetings, our staff submit a proposal for approval and if approved we conduct the planning.

The playback of the exercise through the simulation software from any point of view enables those who view the footage to observe the emergency response, the command and control and the effect of decisions in an immersive environment, increasing Aerodrome safety and the likelihood of success of the plan.

The footage can be shared with response agencies and therefore the Aerodrome is able to capture the entirety of the response agencies, rather the those on shift on the day of the table top exercise.

In line with this, individual participants are able to review their roles on a regular basis to meet the requirements of CASA regulation which states “Individual participants in the aerodrome emergency plan should be encouraged to continuously review their roles (for example on a particular day each month) to ensure that they know their responsibilities and that all the information in the plan is current.

It is important that all personnel who may be required to act in an emergency should develop the correct mental attitude to aerodrome emergency planning. To that end and in spite of their self-evident nature, it is worthwhile noting that the salient lessons to be gained from those who have experienced an airport emergency are that:

  • people do best in an emergency what they have been trained to do;
  • emergencies happen with little or no warning; and
  • emergencies happen to anybody” 

Our Practical Emergency Response Exercises [full scale crash response]

How our practical exercises work. Simon has over 5 years experience in organizing full scale emergency response activities with responding agencies. If you contract us to run your practical exercise, Simon will work closely with your staff to determine what additional training resources need to be bought in to run an immersive emergency response activity.

EDGE Training and Simulation have some purpose-built training aids for such events that include:

A Bell 206 helicopter purposely built for such exercises equipped with the following:

  • Smoke machine [produces up to 1000 cubic feet of smoke a minute]
  • Propane flame
  • CTAF radios for MAYDAY calls
  • Several parts that ARFF are able to deconstruct to conduct a rescue

The Bell 206 can be trailered and moved to any location within your aerodrome to facilitate a response to an incident out of the way to daily business.


  • We provide flight crew in the aircraft that are able to go from start to finish
  • We are able to initiate the exercise with a TRAINING – TRAINING – TRAINING MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY
  • Our staff can replicate actual MAYDAY calls with accurate rotary wing descriptions of issues relating to the MAYDAY
  • We provide casualty makeup and casualty cards detailing injuries
  • Our aircraft can be hosed to extinguish flame and smoke
  • Our aircraft can be partially deconstructed by rescue workers
  • Our equipment is environmentally friendly and safe
Our Bell 206 having its makeshift doors refitted.
Our Bell 206 getting ready for the paintshop