Bengaluru Airport completes emergency mock drill Challenger ’24

Emergency services participants at Bengaluru Airport for emergency drill.
Photo Credit: Bengaluru Airport (BLR)

Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru (BLR) successfully completed its Challenger ’24 exercise, the 10th biennial full-scale aircraft emergency drill conducted on February 29, 2024.

This large-scale event, meticulously planned and executed, served as a test of the airport’s emergency preparedness.

Bengaluru Airport Challenger ’24

The primary objective of Challenger ’24 was to rigorously test and validate BLR Airport’s emergency plans and the preparedness of its personnel.

Over 2,000 participants from a diverse range of 85 organizations actively engaged in the simulation. The collective effort included representatives from domestic and international airlines and ground handling agencies.

Other key participants in the emergency exercise included:

  • city hospitals,
  • the Indian Air Force (IAF),
  • police,
  • air traffic services,
  • fire and emergency services,
  • local communities,
  • aviation institutions, and
  • district administration authorities.
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Realistic Simulation: Putting Procedures to the Test

The exercise meticulously simulated a real-world emergency scenario:

A passenger aircraft (using an actual aircraft) encountering a fire during its final approach for landing formed the crux of the simulation.

The airport’s highly trained Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) team, equipped with the latest firefighting technology, swiftly extinguished the simulated blaze.

This response was further bolstered by the support of the IAF and KSFES firefighting teams, showcasing coordinated and efficient inter-agency collaboration.

Swift Response and Post-Accident Care

The ARFF team, in conjunction with the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), promptly initiated a rescue operation.

BLR Airport swiftly transported passengers requiring medical attention to designated city hospitals, using pre-established Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with healthcare facilities.

In addition, a green corridor was established towards the city to facilitate rapid movement of emergency vehicles.

A real-time airlifting drill involving IAF helicopters simulated the evacuation of critically injured individuals to the IAF command hospital took place.

Emergency services participants at Bengaluru Airport for emergency drill.

Communication and Victim Support

Concurrently, Bengaluru Airport activated an emergency call center and a toll-free number during the simulated emergency. This ensured efficient communication and assisted individuals seeking information and support.

Additionally, specialized support centers for media management, passenger and family care, and reunification played a crucial role.

Learning from the Experience

Commenting on the successful execution of Challenger ’24, Hari Marar, MD and CEO of Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), emphasized the importance of such exercises.

He stated, “This full-scale drill, conducted biennially, engages all stakeholders and serves two primary purposes: firstly, to assess the effectiveness of our procedures and the readiness of our personnel; and secondly, to prioritize the preservation of life and property.”

“We remain committed to achieving these goals while ensuring minimal disruption to flight operations.”

“My sincere gratitude goes out to all internal and external stakeholders who made this exercise a success. Such drills provide invaluable opportunities for testing our capabilities, learning from experiences, and enhancing our crisis preparedness,” he concluded.

Bengaluru Airport will actively conduct a comprehensive debriefing and evaluation process following the exercise. This will involve capturing key learnings, identifying areas for improvement, and formulating actionable recommendations.

These insights will be utilized to refine and strengthen the airport’s emergency response protocols, communication frameworks, and inter-stakeholder collaboration.

This continuous improvement process marks BIAL’s commitment to exceeding standards of safety and emergency preparedness. Standards are mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and DGCA regulations.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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