Munich Airport performs emergency training

Imagine the following scenario: Boarding begins and the aircraft fills up with passengers. Preparations are almost complete and the aircraft should take off shortly. Suddenly you notice that the push back tractor is on fire and the fire could possibly encroach to the aircraft - quick action is required! In order to master dangerous situations like these confidently and precise, flawless and professional crisis management is essential.

On Friday, May 10, 2019, Munich Airport practiced a crisis scenario with around 300 extras, 200 employees and task forces as well as 40 emergency vehicles. The international aviation authorities enjoins such crisis trials every two years. The aim is to review the alerting, operational procedures and cooperation between the airport, fire department, airline, relief organizations and security authorities.

In addition to a push back tractor fire on the apron, the training scenario scheduled an unauthorized access to the security-restricted area of the passenger Terminal.

The boarding of an Airbus A319 started at around 2pm. While the passengers were boarding the aircraft, the push back tractor was already in position to ensure speedy handling of the flight. For still unexplained reasons - so the scenario - the engine of the push back tractor caught fire. The resulting smoke also reached the cabin of the Airbus through the open aircraft door, so that the passengers had to be evacuated as quickly as possible. Several passengers were injured during the occurrence. While the passengers were still being taken care of by the emergency services and the aircraft and push back tractor were being inspected, a message reached the Control Center Security: A person had entered the security-restricted area of the passenger Terminal without permission via an emergency exit door. 

Emergency Training at Munich Airport
On Friday, May 10, 2019, Munich Airport practiced a crisis scenario with around 300 extras, 200 employees and task forces as well as 40 emergency vehicles.  © Flughafen München GmbH
Emergency Training at Munich Airport
The aim of these trainings is to review the alerting, operational procedures and cooperation between all involved parties. © Flughafen München GmbH

Subsequently, terminal operations in the security-restricted area were stopped at the Federal Police’s disposition and all passengers and airport employees were evacuated shortly afterwards. As result of the evacuation the airport terminal operation department, the concerning airline and local police department had to take care of stranded passengers: providing information, serving water, rebooking flights, organizing overnight accommodation and serving medical support. Once the Federal Police swept the security-restricted area and declared it clean, terminal operations were resumed.

During this trial, flight operations continued as normal and there were no restrictions for passengers, as the fire scenario took place in the area of the maintenance hangars and the evacuation of the passenger Terminal was moved to Hall F for training purposes.

According to initial findings, the interaction between internal and external forces, as well as between the authorities, airline and airport departments involved, went smoothly. Also, the care and support of the fictitious passengers and their relatives was carried out to Munich’s utmost satisfaction. Regardless, Munich Airport is currently evaluating all results and processes in detail in order to identify any possible optimization measures. Regular trials like this one, paired with a strong security culture are key for a high level of safety and security standards.