Airports Heighten Emergency Readiness As They Welcome More Travellers

Company Kuala Lumpur International Airport
Date 11.11.2021

Earlier today, KL International Airport (KLIA) completed its full-scale airport emergency exercise (AEX) with the participation of more than 200 people from 13 government and private agencies in a 3-day programme involving a webinar, tabletop exercise and culminated in a physical simulation that was conducted in full compliance with all safety protocols. Throughout the pandemic 12 other airports nationwide had also conducted the AEX but in the form of virtual tabletop exercises only.

Malaysia Airports’ managing director, Dato’ Iskandar Mizal Mahmood said that although airports have been recording low passenger movements throughout the pandemic, the airport operator has maintained its vigilance in safeguarding the airports as well the wellbeing of its passengers, “Emergency exercises are conducted annually. Due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, we were only able to hold tabletop exercises in the last two years. With the lifting of restrictions, we immediately took the opportunity to conduct a full-scale exercise for KLIA. This is especially vital as we have started seeing a significant rise in passenger traffic movements. It is important for us to be able to plan and coordinate our emergency responses without compromising COVID-19 safety protocols.

Airport emergency exercises are also important for national security. Airports in Malaysia are gazetted as restricted areas with several such as KLIA and Lapangan Terbang Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah, Subang (LTSAAS) categorised as National Vital Installation Priority 1. Priority 1 means that it has the highest threat and impact on national security and government functions if sabotaged or destroyed. These exercises ensure that Malaysia Airports upholds the highest commitment to airport safety and security as we continue to welcome the travelling public to the airports,” he added further.

The KLIA AEX is dubbed ‘Perisai Panthera’, panthera being the genus name of the Malaysian tiger. This name is reflective of the airport community’s resilience and swift response in handling emergency situations. Participants of the three-day KLIA AEX had the opportunity to test and strengthen their coordination, capabilities and readiness in accordance to the official documented Aerodrome Emergency Plan (AEP). The AEP outlines detailed contingency plans including responses to safety and security threats based on standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The AEX also included a webinar and a virtual tabletop exercise. Webinar speakers from the Air Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) of Ministry of Transport; Cyber Security Malaysia (CSM); Malaysia Airlines Group (MAG) and Malaysia Airports’ Airport Fire and Rescue Service (AFRS) covered a wide variety of topics from challenges in managing aerodrome emergencies within the new norms, to understanding the threat to cyber security. While the virtual tabletop exercise was conducted to assess participants’ theory and knowledge on how to handle emergency situations, the physical AEX was vital to assess participants’ actual responses during the enactment of an on-ground emergency. This time, the emergency enactment for ‘Perisai Panthera’ exercise involved an aircraft engine explosion while parked at the boarding gate.

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