Oussama Salah – GoCrisis Associate
For a long time, an Emergency Response Program (ERP) was prepared to handle an aircraft accident and/or incident. If you were a progressive operator, you would have included major flight disruptions at your main base(s) due to airport closures mainly for weather conditions or runway closures.
ERP activation has evolved as threats to aviation have evolved with pandemics, terrorism, security, and health threats becoming prominent events. The mandating of Safety Management System (SMS) has introduced systematic Risk Management processes and placed emphasis on Emergency Response.
Smaller general aviation operators, operating internationally, carrying high net worth clients to smaller airports with little support on an unscheduled basis face a myriad of challenges. Their Emergency Response Program activation must consider all the evolving threats. Family Assistance had to be developed to go beyond passengers and their families to include incidents and threats to personnel and property such as sabotage, bomb, and biological threats, communicable diseases along with pandemics.
This is further complicated if you happen to operate in conflict zones.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world had to deal with Ebola, SARS, Avian (bird) Flu (H1N5), MERS, and Swine Flu (H1N1). In addition, operating to certain regions of the world where communicable diseases such as Malaria, Dengue Fever, Chikungunya, Yellow Fever and Zika fever among a longer list of diseases. This has added a new category of inflight incidents dealing with the outbreak of communicable diseases.
The Emergency Response plan needs to have an emphasis on Media Response and Business Continuity.
A small operator with a limited number of clients cannot afford bad publicity. Consequently, Media Response becomes a very important part of ERP if the company is to survive. It is imperative to convey the right message to the clients, brokers, and service providers. Tell the story of how robust your response was.
Similarly, Business Continuity is another important aspect of the Emergency Response when your offices are compromised for any reason and must be vacated. The COVID-19 imposed lockdown is a prime example. The ability to operate remotely, whether from home or alternative locations becomes fundamental to the survival of the organization.
Operators need to monitor the evolving threat environment and constantly update their ERP activation issues.