Airport emergency plan (AEP)

emergency plan (AEP)

Airports are differ in complexity, but each has unique features. Some are small, uncomplicated facilities serving small cities, while others are large with complicated facilities serving as international hubs. But when it comes to safety requirements, Regardless of the size of the airport and who manage it, each airport must have an emergency response plan to respond to airport emergencies. Airport emergency is any occasion or instance, natural or man-made that warrants action to save lives and protects property and public health. (ref. FAA- AC 150/5200-31C , 1-2).


While every emergency cannot be anticipated and prepared for, a strong emergency preparedness planning can assist in limiting the negative impact of these emergencies, including liability and other post emergency issues.  

Usually, airports are operated by the local government such as a city or county; or by an Authority representing multiple local governments; and even some are operated by the State. The fact is, no airport has sufficient resources to respond to every emergency situation independently. Each airport must depend to some degree on the resources from its surround communities. For this reason, it is essential for each airport authority to prepare for emergencies that may face it, and coordinating the plan with surrounding community authorities.

By agreeing and tested airport emergency plan, an airport authority will be able to respond quickly, efficiently and effectively.


In this article, I am going to give you an overview about the airport emergency plan and what are the main important subjects that it should cover, in addition, a list of all airport agencies and other parties which must be involved in the plan.


What is the Airport Emergency Planning?

Airport emergency planning is the process of preparing an airport to cope with an emergency occurring at the airport or in its vicinity. The object of airport emergency planning is to minimize the effects of an emergency. Particularly in respect of saving lives and maintaining aircraft operations. The airport emergency plan sets forth the

Procedures for coordinating the response of different airport agencies (or services) and those agencies in the surrounding community that could be of assistance in responding to the emergency. (ref. ICAO Doc 9137-part 7, 1.1)

Before you start reading airport emergency plan in more details, I will give you a short summary about ICAO International Civil Aviation Organization regulatory framework regarding the airport emergency plan.

What is an ICAO Regulatory Framework ?

ICAO publishes its provisions in Annex 14 and in another ICAO documents, this is the list of the airport emergency plan provisions:

1- ICAO Annex 14

Vol. 1 – Aerodromes design and operation

In accordance with the provisions in Annex 14, Volume I, States are required to establish at every airport an emergency plan commensurate with the aircraft operations and other activities conducted at the airport. (Ref. Annex 14- Vol. 1, Chapter 9).

2- Airport services Manual, Part 7

Doc 9137-PART 7 – Airport Emergency Planning

ICAO Doc 9137-part 7 relates principally to matters concerning pre-planning for airport emergencies, as well as coordination between the different airport agencies (or services) and those agencies in the surrounding community that  could be of assistance in responding to the emergency

3- Manual on certification of Aerodromes

Further provisions are found in Doc 9774, Appendix 1, Part 4.3

4-  ICAO Safety Management Manual

Also, it's covered in  Doc 9859, Appendix 3 to Chapter 5 - Emergency Response Planning.


Note :

For further reading you can read Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), 14 CFR Part 139, Certification of Airports and Advisory Circular - AC 150/5200-31C.


Who Are the Parties Involved in an Airport Emergency Plan (AEP)?

The plan spells out the coordinated response or participation of all existing agencies which, in the opinion of the authority, could be of assistance in responding to an emergency.

Examples of such agencies are:

a) On the airport

1) rescue and firefighting services;

2) medical services;

3) police and/or security services;

4) airport administration;

5) air traffic services; and

6) aircraft operators.


b) Off the airport

1) mutual aid police;

2) mutual aid local fire departments;

3) medical services;

4) hospitals;

5) government authorities;

6) military;

7) harbour patrol or coast guard; and

8) all other participating agencies as defined in ICAO Doc 9137-part 7,chapter 3.


The airport authority should ensure that all participating agencies having duties and responsibilities under the emergency plan are familiar with their assignments. They should also be familiar with other agencies duties in the emergency plan. (ref. ICAO Doc 9137-part 7, 1.2.2).


What is an Airport Emergency Plan (AEP) Document?

The AEP is a document that:

a. Assigns responsibility to organizations and individuals for carrying out specific actions at projected times and places in responding to an emergency.

 b. Sets forth lines of authority and organizational relationships, and shows how all actions should be coordinated.

c. Describes how people and property will be protected in emergencies and disasters.

d. Identifies personnel, equipment, facilities, supplies, and other resources available—within the airport or by agreement with communities—for use during response and recovery operations.

e. As a public document, cities its legal basis, states its objectives, and acknowledges assumptions.

f. Facilitates response and short-term recovery to set the stage for successful long-term recovery. (ref. FAA , AC 150/5200-31C,2.4)



What is the Emergencies that Must be Covered by Airport Emergency Plan (AEP)?

Below is an example  of the potential list of hazards that airports may choose to include in your AEP Document:

      a)    Aircraft Accidents & Incidents;

      b)    Terrorism Incidents;

      c)    Structural Fires, Fuel Farms and Fuel Storage Areas;

      d)    Natural Disasters;

      e)    Hazardous Materials Incidents;

      f)     Sabotage, Hijack and Unlawful Interference with Operations;

     g)    Failure of Power for Movement Area Lighting;

     h)    Water Rescue Situations; and

     i)      Crowd Control;

      j)      Public Health Emergencies



Note :

Further hazards may be included, or some be excluded.  For instance, if an airport is not located next to a water source it will not need to cover water rescue situations within airport AEP.  However, if an airport experiences severe weather conditions, such as thunderstorms during the summer months that create high winds, hail, flooding, tornados, and etc., it should be mentioned it in AEP.



Airport emergency is any occasion or instance, natural or man-made that warrants action to save lives and protects property and public health. (ref. FAA- AC 150/5200-31C , 1-2)


The principal goals of the airport emergency plan are to render necessary assistance and minimize further injury or damage  to persons, or environment involved in accidents or emergency situations at the Airport.


Each agency and persons  involved must keep in mind that just writing the plan and putting the plan in place is not sufficient, unless the contents are known and practiced by all involved in the event of an emergency, the plan will be useless. In addition, every person involved should have a copy of the plan and the emergency contact numbers on their person. It is suggested that a laminated wallet sized card of contact numbers be made available for immediate access to pertinent information.


Consideration should be given to mutual assistance and coordination between local/regional resources with airport resources to cope with an emergency quickly, efficiently and effectively

Maged Saeed AL-Hadabi

I’m Instructor / Maged Saeed Al-Hadabi. ​ Air Cargo / IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations / Safety Management System Senior Instructor, Auditor [ Yemen Airways] . Approved IATA DGR/ SMS Instructor by Yemen Civil Aviation Authority.

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