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Suggested Citation:"Summary ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Airport Emergency Post-Event Recovery Practices. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22151.
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SUMMARY The most directly accessible part of this report is the list of effective post-disaster airport recovery practices and lessons learned that was derived from interviews with 37 U.S. airports regarding spe- cific recovery efforts following incidents that completely or partially closed the airport. The list, which ranges from broadly applicable practices to more detailed items, is designed to assist airport managers and planners in the development and implementation of recovery plans. The list appears as Appendix A to this report. Many airports apply the same strategies they use in preparing for a response to an unforeseen incident or emergency to preparing for the recovery process that follows. Trouble-shooting, problem- solving, continuous improvement techniques, and planning well in advance can save airports stress, time, and money. Focused after-action reviews of past recovery efforts help airports improve pre- paredness for future ones. Sharing lessons learned within and among airports helps all stakeholders avoid reinventing the wheel and the painful process of learning things the hard way. A successful recovery from an emergency or disaster boosts staff morale, increases the public’s trust in the airport, and improves the bottom line. In addition to the list in Appendix A, four case examples of actual airport recovery operations as they played out in real time illustrate the complex dynamics of the recovery process, the challenges inherent in planning for unforeseen events, and the need for creativity and strong leadership under duress. Together, the list and case examples can help guide airport managers as they shape their own individual planning process for recovery after a serious incident. Analysis of the data led to the following conclusions: • The keys to a successful recovery are awareness, flexibility, and planning. • Airports appear increasingly willing to share their detailed after-action review results and lessons learned with their stakeholders, their communities, peer airports, the media, and the public. • Greater clarity is necessary in what statements are made about an airport being “closed” and “open,” and greater control is required over who and how such statements are made. • Building good working relationships, internal and external, are essential to airports’ effective response and recovery. • Risk-based and fact-based advance planning support successful recovery. • The National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS) provide sound guidelines for airport response and recovery. • Airports recognize the need for more training on NIMS, ICS, and Unified Command. • A Unified Command is the most effective means of command and control of recovery activities. • Airports that have and use comprehensive crisis communications plans find them indispensable. • The perceived level of success or failure of an airport’s recovery affects its standing in the community. • The speed of an airport’s return to normal operations is key to the public perception of success. AIRPORT EMERGENCY POST-EVENT RECOVERY PRACTICES

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TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Synthesis 60: Airport Emergency Post-Event Recovery Practices explores approaches to improving the overall resiliency of airports through planning for the recovery phase of emergency response.

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