Ben Gurion Airport Stages Mass Aviation Disaster Drill

Exercise simulates Boeing plane en route from Tel Aviv to Manchester, bursting into flames midway through flight.

A mass aviation disaster drill was staged on Wednesday at Ben Gurion International Airport. Authorities shut down airspace for an hour, between 10 and 11 A.M., to simulate a flight disaster, including emergency landing.

The drill began at 9 A.M. and lasted until noon. There were no changes to flight schedules, but airport road traffic was lightly disrupted due to security monitoring.

The exercise simulated a hypothetical flight of a Boeing 747-200, taking off from Ben Gurion Airport en route to Manchester. After an hour, the plane was to crash and burst into flames.

The plane used during the simulation was specially acquired from EL Al. Live fire was opened on the deck as part of the exercise, which required rescue workers to reach the scene of the crash within two minutes.

Some 30 Magen David Adom ambulances and 30 fire trucks from every station in the central region joined Ben Gurion's emergency teams to take part in the simulation.

200 senior army officers and Magen David Adom personnel simulated fatalities and casualities covering different levels of injury from the aircraft. The army's Owl helicopter also participated, evacuating the more "serious" casualties.

A number of focal centers were also opened, to simulate assistance for families of victims, unharmed passengers, and general information.

The drill was carried out as part of the airport's emergency program, in accordance with the security guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The objectives of the drill included verifying Ben-Gurion Airport's state of preparation for different emergency situations. It was also an exercise in administrative cooperation and productivity for all those involved in emergency and rescue procedures at the airport.