The County of Cheshire has three airports immediately adjacent to its boundaries – Manchester International, Liverpool John Lennon and Hawarden Airport ( Airbus).
As a consequence a considerable number of aircraft take off or land over the county, at busy times as many as 400 aircraft a day.
It has long been recognised that an aircraft accident in Cheshire would require a considerable amount of information exchange and cross border working between, not just the airports, but the emergency services and responding agencies of the adjacent areas and as a consequence, in 2007, the Resilience Forum formed the Cross Border Air Accident Working Group.
Liaison and joint planning has been on-going since that date, and much any progress have been made. In 2013 it was suggested that a joint exercise would test the work already completed and identify any issues to be addressed in the future. Exercise Trident was planned and took place on Wednesday 26th February 2014.
Aims and Objectives
The aims and objectives were focused upon joint planning and multi-agency working
•To review and evaluate the response plans of each agency that would respond to an Exercise Trident DeBrief
• To examine the response plans of Manchester, Liverpool John Lennon and Hawarden airport and how they dovetail into the multi-Agency plans of those agencies bordering the airport and attending an incident.
• Identify and share good practice.
• Identify and equate planning assumptions and capabilities across the agencies.
• Foster and promote co-operation and consultation between emergency planning stakeholders in order to ensure an effective multi-agency response to an air accident in Cheshire.
The Exercise -What we did
The Exercise was deliberately engineered to involve as many agencies as possible. To that end a scenario was developed of a plane giving warning to an airfield that it would be arriving with mechanical difficulties. This warning known as a ‘Full emergency’ would result in emergency services being at the airfield to await the plane’s arrival. On its final approach the plane issues became worse and the aircraft crashed in the County of Cheshire a short distance from the airfield.
All three of the airports attended and to ensure the exercise remained relevant to each, the size and nature of the crashed aircraft varied for each airport table.
Lessons learnt from the Exercise have been fed back into the Airport Planning Groups for action to ensure response plans are even more robust.