Guernsey Press

Exercise tests response to drone strike on ATR

Guernsey Airport’s runway closed for three hours yesterday, as emergency services practised how to react if an ATR struck a drone while coming into land.

Aurigny allowed one of its ATR aircraft to be used to make the exercise as realistic as possible. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 32733443)

In the scenario, the plane would land heavily, leave the runway and a fire would break out.

Matt Capazario, Guernsey Ports head of airside operations, said the exercise – codenamed Exercise Jackdaw – was designed to test its emergency policies and procedures.

‘The exercise went very well,’ he said.

‘It was an important opportunity for all the different agencies to work together with a joint plan so we can build resilience and further strengthen our preparedness for a major emergency.’

Aurigny had loaned an ATR for the exercise to make it as real as possible.

Firefighters rushed onto the plane in breathing apparatus and located more than 20 passengers and crew, who were evacuated.

The exercise considered all the hazards that would arise from such an incident and how these would be dealt with.

It also simulated the communications that would be needed with external agencies, such as the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

Mr Capazario said that a real emergency situation had been replicated as much as possible.

‘We have a full debrief scheduled with all the agencies involved, where we will review what we have learnt from and use this to inform our emergency planning,’ he said.

‘Although major incidents involving aircraft are rare, exercises like this provide us with valuable experience for how we would manage such a situation.’

The exercise involved staff from the Airport Fire & Rescue Service, Guernsey Airport, Aurigny, St John Emergency Ambulance Service Guernsey, Guernsey Fire & Rescue Service, Bailiwick Law Enforcement, Border Agency, JESCC, Princess Elizabeth Hospital, Guernsey Water, Guernsey Civil Protection volunteers and Guernsey’s emergency planning officer.

The exercise took place between 7 and 10am, with the flights tweaked to leave a gap. The last flight to leave was the Manchester flight at 7.18am, while the first flight to land afterwards was the Gatwick flight just after 10am.