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Monday, May 27, 2024
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Realistic Emergency Response Test in Cairns

A simulated aircraft crash took place at Cairns Airport last week. 

The exercise on Thursday, titled ‘Northern Overrun’, gave emergency services and other key agencies the opportunity to respond to a high-risk scenario in a controlled setting. 

The scenario involved a fictional international passenger flight overshooting the runway and going through a fence and Saltwater Creek before coming to rest in the mangroves. 

A series of departments, organisations and agencies were invited to take part, including Australian Federal Police, Queensland Police Service, Queensland Ambulance Service, Cairns Regional Council, Australian Border Force, Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting Service, Queensland Fire and Emergency Service, State Emergency Service, Australian Red Cross, airlines, and more. 

Participants performed their regular roles and responsibilities during the exercise. Students from Central Queensland University’s paramedic course role played injured passengers, and part of the airport was transformed into a crash site. The multi-agency full field exercise involved more than 100 personnel and volunteers. 

A firefighter responds to a simulated aircraft crash during a training exercise at cairns airport
A firefighter responds to a simulated aircraft crash during a training exercise at Cairns Airport

Cairns Airport Chief Executive Officer Richard Barker said facilitating a practical emergency scenario was an important part of Cairns Airport’s continued commitment to aviation safety. 

“Exercises such as this enable us and participating agencies to assess and improve emergency responses at the airport and provide an opportunity for stakeholders to share their procedures and knowledge,” he said. 

This exercise in particular will assess procedures relating to restricted terrain, such as mangroves, which is highly relevant given our location.

Planning experts behind the exercise modelled the scenario on a real-life accident that took place in Indonesia on 7 March 2007 when a passenger aircraft operated by Garuda Airlines overran a runway at Yogyakarta Airport. 

The aircraft crossed a road and impacted an embankment before stopping in a rice paddy field. 

Cairns Airport holds a full field exercise every two years. Table-top versions of the scenarios are carried out on alternate years.

The exercise did not affect passengers arriving or departing Cairns Airport. 

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