Exercise Aurora Recap
Last Wednesday, we hosted Exercise Aurora—a large-scale mock exercise to simulate an aircraft crash on the runway.
A sincere thank you to YYC Crew and Team YYC who were involved in all aspects—from planning to volunteering as acting passengers and concerned loved ones of those involved in the incident.
Here’s what happened throughout the day:
7:30 a.m. — It all began with simulating an aircraft crash of Vega Airlines flight #123, on-scene on Runway 08. We prepared the scene with final touches such as setting up the debris field.
8:30 a.m. — Volunteers acting as passengers and flight crew arrived in Banff Hall. They checked in and received the roles they would be playing, either injured or uninjured passenger. They then made their way through security to board the bus to Runway 08 where they received a safety briefing.
9:30 a.m. — Volunteers acting as family and friends of passengers on the flight arrived in Banff Hall.
10:30 a.m. – The bus with the volunteer passengers arrived on Runway 08. Volunteers were provided with a briefing and a short time later they boarded the aircraft.
10:30 a.m. — Emergency responders including Calgary Fire Department (CFD), Calgary Police Service (CPS) and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) were pre-staged at Response Gate West in preparation for response and to ensure realistic entrance times onto the airfield. Pro-Tec Fire Services also provided a briefing to all the emergency responders.
10:50 a.m. — The volunteer friends and family were staged on Domestic Arrivals by Carousel 7, near Air Canada’s baggage counter. Mount Royal University students acting as media presented themselves to Banff Hall. Their role was to ask the Vega Airlines (Air Canada) check-in staff questions about the incident.
11:18 a.m. — The air traffic control tower activated the Crash Alarm advising that Vega Airlines Flight #123 had crashed on Runway 08 west of Taxiway A. The aircraft was billowing smoke and leaking fuel.
Our Crash Trucks were the initial responders to the scene, and they immediately focused on putting out the simulated starboard engine fire and ensuring a safe egress route for those evacuating the aircraft. Additional fire support from CFD, as well as EMS and CPS, arrived shortly after. Triage of the passengers and flight crew began and two passengers who were unable to evacuate needed to be rescued. They also had to deal with a simulated active fuel leak.
11: 24 a.m. — The Integrated Operations Centre (IOC) activated the Airport Emergency Operations Centre (AEOC) and primary responders via YYC’s mass notification system — xMatters. In addition to members of the Airport Authority’s Emergency Response team, the representatives from Vega Airlines (played by Air Canada), CFD, CPS and Alberta Health Services (AHS) filled the room.
The AEOC’s role for this incident was to support the scene and collect and analyze data to make strategic decisions and ensure the continuity of airport operations.
12:25 p.m. — The passengers were transported to Gate B39 where Air Canada staff started filling out forms, while CPS and Terminal Operations maintained headcount. EMS was also at the Gate to ensure no one else required medical attention and the TOS ensured that passengers from the exercise didn’t mingle with actual passengers in the concourse.
12:26 p.m. — The crash scene is under control and CFD was stood down.
12:52 p.m. — The airport’s Crash Fire Rescue Category was returned to CAT 9
1:01 p.m. — The Transportation Safety Board arrived on scene to begin their investigation process.
1:18 p.m. — The passengers were taken to Banff Hall for reunification with their volunteer friends and family. Air Canada conducted their reunification process.
1:30 p.m. — The Public Information Officers from YYC and all agencies hosted a media scrum in Kananaskis hall where media volunteers, performed by Mount Royal University journalism students, peppered each agency and the YYC Spokesperson with questions.
2:15 p.m. — Exercise Aurora officially came to an end.
It took approximately three hours to execute an exercise that was carefully constructed over six months of strategic planning. Devised to test the emergency plans of The Calgary Airport Authority and response agencies in the event of an aircraft incident on the airport, the end goal was a better understanding of interagency capabilities and identifying areas for improvement.