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A Qantas Boeing 747-400 didn't crash at Sydney International Airport yesterday. But if it had crashed, the airport authority and emergency services believe they've successfully tested everything they would use to respond to a major airline disaster.
As part of the 'Exercise Soteria' emergency drill held yesterday afternoon, the mock crash was caused by a mechanical failure onboard a Qantas Boeing 747-400, although further specifics of the scenario were not released.
Oh, and an airport bus was used in place of an actual aircraft. (After all, those 747s cost money!)
Australian Business Traveller reader and photojournalist Angus Mordant attended the exercise and shared his observations, and these great photographs, with us.
Hundreds of volunteers played the roles of passengers involved in the incident on the 747-bus, as well as their anxious families and friends awaiting news of loved ones' miraculous rescue or grisly demise.
The initial stages of the exercise involved the ‘plane’ coming to a crash-landing stop before rapidly being surrounded by the fluorescent yellow aviation rescue & firefighting trucks which had been mobilised upon alert of the crippled inbound aircraft.
Other emergency teams followed to assist with evacuating the 'aircraft', treating the volunteer casualties and taking precautions in case the 'plane' were to burst into flames.
Part of the operation -- which also had a 'back office' element -- was designed to test the coordination between Australian and overseas airport, airline and emergency personnel.
“Being able to practice the arrangements at the airport allows us to deliver our response in the very environment we will be working in should we have a real incident,” said NSW Police Superintendent Karen McCarthy.
“While nothing compares to a real life emergency, exercises like Soteria provide our emergency services personnel with the opportunity to practice their skills,” added Michael Gallacher, Minister for Police and Emergency Services.
“The exercise also maintains public confidence that should an emergency arise, our police and emergency service agencies are well prepared and rehearsed to deal with any situation,” Gallacher concluded.
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