PASAY CITY, 5 August 2023 – The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) showcased its emergency response capability and preparedness during the Crash and Rescue Exercise (CREX) 2023 at the airside premises of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Friday, August 4.
The successful demonstration of this year’s full-scale simulated emergency CREX allows MIAA to ensure that the prescribed plans, guidelines, and organizational setup of the 8th edition of the NAIA Airport Emergency Plan 2023 adequately and effectively address emergencies occurring at or within the immediate vicinity of the country’s main gateway.
“A dependable communication and coordination system is essential for a responsive Airport Emergency Plan (AEP). This exercise puts our communication and coordination system to the test, not only among MIAA offices but also with our external partner agencies,” said MIAA Officer-in-Charge Bryan Co.
“We want to assess primary and secondary responders’ ability to respond to an aircraft crash and the resulting mass casualty event, including rescue and fire suppression, treatment and transport of survivors, and crash site security. The exercise also validates the methods for shifting from an emergency situation to normal airport operations following a potential major incident,” Co added.
The scenario for CREX 2023 involved a commercial aircraft bound for Subic, CREX flight #0000, carrying 76 passengers and four crew members, that suffered a left engine malfunction during the take-off run after a flock of domestic pigeons crossing the runway was ingested into the aircraft's number one (left) engine, causing the aircraft to crash.
The aircraft lost thrust on its number one engine during take-off. The pilot attempted to abort the take-off, but the aircraft veered off the runway and came to a stop on the western portion. A fire broke out on the left wing. In this mock incident, there were 80 casualties, with 72 survivors and eight deceased.
In addition to the standard fire suppression, medical, emergency response, and search and rescue activities, this year's CREX edition featured the activation of Cebu Pacific's Accident Site Go Team, marking the first time MIAA partnered with an airline.
“Cebu Pacific prioritizes safety and has established processes when it comes to emergency response. We thank the MIAA for the opportunity for us to train together to help ensure that communication systems are in place in the event of a multi-agency response,” Cebu Pacific President and Chief Commercial Officer Xander Lao said as the airline demonstrated its emergency response, particularly in providing support to victims as well as processing and cross-matching victims and family members.
The CREX is held to continuously meet security standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). In compliance with ICAO’s Suggested and Recommended Practices, the CREX is held every two years, but the full-scale exercise may not be conducted if the airport’s emergency plan was activated.
The last full-scale CREX was on October 19, 2017. Several actual aircraft incidents in the succeeding years then brought to fore MIAA’s emergency response capabilities.
In August 2018, a Plan 1 emergency under its Airport Emergency Plan was activated when a Xiamen Air aircraft veered off the main runway while attempting to land during heavy downpour. Barely two years after, another Plan 1 emergency occurred in March 2020, when a Lion Air medivac flight caught fire while it was rolling for take-off.
The most recent involved a Saudia Airlines flight that went off the taxiway onto the grassy portion when its six right landing gears malfunctioned in June 2022. All passengers and crew were immediately evacuated and brought to NAIA Terminal 1. No one was hurt as a result of the incident.
NAIA is rated as a Category IX airport, while MIAA’s current rescue and firefighting capability is Category X compliant, making it ready to respond to an airport emergency involving an Airbus A380. With the support of highly skilled fire and rescue personnel, a medical team well trained and experienced in aviation medicine, a fleet of modern firefighting and medical vehicles, pneumatic aircraft lifting systems, and various other rescue equipment, the MIAA Emergency Services department is on par with its counterparts in the region.
“As this is a multi-agency response to a simulated emergency, assessment activities will be done after the exercise, where stakeholders are welcome to share their observations and raise comments and suggestions to improve our airport emergency plan and coordination system. The response is a community effort, and we appreciate everyone’s contribution in our quest to maintain the global standards of safety and security in NAIA,” Co said.
“We would also like to thank our secondary responders for their support: Pasay City General Hospital, Ospital ng Parañaque, San Juan De Dios Hospital, Philippine Airforce, Las Piñas General Hospital, Philippine Coast Guard, Taguig City Fire Station, Manila Medical Center, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) – Makati, Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group, Las Piñas City Fire Station, BFP Parañaque, Philippine General Hospital, Philippine Red Cross – Pasay City Chapter, and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority,” Co added.