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1 Practices in Airport Emergency Plans Airports prepare to respond to emergencies through various means and methods. Among the many forms that preparedness has taken, one method is developing and updating an airport emergency plan, or AEP. An AEP is meant to support airports in defining roles and responsibilities of stakeholders during emergencies, identifying specific threats that could affect airports, and establish communication protocols for the airport community. Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 139.325, and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Advisory Circular (AC) 150/5200-31C regulates AEPs. Many airports have opted to maintain AEPs to the regulation standard, then focus on enhancing their preparedness, response, and recovery efforts through development, training, and exercise of additional all-hazards plans. The objectives of the synthesis were (1) to identify the issues, challenges, and work- arounds experienced by airport managers with AEPs as useful and actionable documents; and (2) understand FAA inspectorsâ perspectives about how AEPs ameliorate risks and guide emergency response actions. The synthesis provides data from respondents on their practices as it relates to understanding and developing their AEPs. The authors gathered relevant data specific to AEP practices that can effectively be applied to other airports, including general aviation (GA) airports, whether required to maintain an AEP or not. The data was gathered through a review of relevant literature on the topic; an in-person plenary panel discussion at the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) International Airport Emergency Management Conference in Chicago, Illinois, on July 16, 2019, with 175 attendees; an online survey provided to 81 airport representatives from 62 airports (26 large-hub, eight medium-hub, 13 small- hub, three nonhub primary, six nonhub general aviation, and six nonhub reliever) with a response rate of 45 airports, or 73%; and seven 45-minute phone interviews with airports (five large-hub and two GA). Unsuccessful attempts were made to contact and collect data from associated FAA airport inspectors to validate findings and gain collaborator and regulator experience and practice. For the purposes of this study, airports of varying categories, as defined by the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS), were included and afforded the opportunity to respond to survey questions about their AEP practices, as well as an opportunity to speak further with the synthesis team about these practices. The survey was anonymous, allow- ing airports to answer openly and honestly about their practices. A list of airports provided with the survey is in Appendix C; however, this list does not indicate who responded. S U M M A R Y
2 Practices in Airport Emergency Plans Overview of Feedback A majority of survey respondents indicated that their airportâs AEP is sufficient as a response document and fulfills the requirements of the AC; however, respondents ultimately indicated that the AEP is difficult to use or not used at all when response opera- tions are underway. Based on respondentsâ answers, this is either because the AEP is too cumbersome, is not detailed enough or updated, or is lacking in the necessary information. Respondents agreed or strongly agreed that to ensure airport personnel understand their roles and responsibilities during an incident, they (the respondents) have found a benefit in creating and developing other hazard-specific plans as a supplement to the AEP. Other patterns that emerged from respondent data show that the AEP, the task of updating the AEP, and ensuring that it is in sync with all other airport preparedness plans are often the responsibility of one person. Since one person is solely dedicated to the task, respondents indicated experiencing challenges when updating the AEPs. Additional challenges ranged from having to have multiple plans to meet local, state, and federal guidelines and regula- tions to keeping the plan broad enough for the various hazards the airport could experience while providing specific processes for responding to those incidents. Challenges are not only present when developing or updating an AEP but are also encountered when actually using the AEP during an incident. While some airports want to build out the AEP, others have been successful by reducing the size of the document by only including the required information. Some airports have removed everything beyond the regulatory requirements from the AEP and placed nonregulatory information in stand- alone plans. Regardless, throughout the survey, respondents indicated that the AEP is a necessity, although successes and challenges arise as they strive to find the right balance between regulatory adherence and the preparedness of the airport community. The case examples provided in this synthesis highlight successful practices as well as lessons learned from five large-hub and two GA airports. The AEP practices that are part of the case examples are updating AEPs or developing all-hazards plans through a needs assessment or gap analysis (Charlotte Douglas International Airport); updating the AEP through use of a review committee (George Bush Intercontinental Airport); develop- ment of AEP annexes and training requirements using various metrics (Fort Lauderdale- Hollywood International Airport); socializing the AEP with stakeholders (McCarran International Airport); incorporating updates into AEP processes following a real-world incident (Seattle-Tacoma International Airport); and AEP development at GA airports (Boulder City Municipal Airport, Pearson Field Airport, and Centennial Airport). For further information about the case examples, please refer to Chapter 4 of this synthesis. Major Findings The findings of this synthesis demonstrate that airports are using the AEP as a founda- tional plan for all required information, then finding innovative ways to communicate and exercise the plan(s), incorporate lessons learned into AEPs, and develop new plans to fill perceived or identified gaps. As airports encounter emergencies of varying sizes, types, and complexities beyond airfield and aircraft accidents, airports find themselves in need of plans that seek to manage all types of hazards and threats. Airports are therefore enhancing the AEPs through development of all-hazards plans, capabilities-based planning efforts [e.g., evacuation, transportation, continuity of operations plans (COOPs), or communications], or threat- and incident-specific plans (e.g., severe weather plans, epidemic or pandemic, or active shooter or assailant plans). In addition,
Summary 3 airports are finding innovative ways to ensure stakeholders are aware of their roles and responsibilities. Examples identified include establishing review committees, building standalone checklists, and developing reference guides. Major conclusions of the study include the following: 1. Many airports have opted to maintain AEPs to the regulation standard, then focus on development, training, and exercise of supplemental all-hazards plans. Traditional emergency management (EM) practices are being incorporated into airport programs, placing importance on gap and threat assessments, training and exercise programs, and a formal improvement planning process. 2. Airports have created innovative AEP practices to ensure the airport has relevant plans necessary to respond to and recover from threats that could affect the airport and its stakeholders. 3. Engagement of stakeholders internally and externally to the airport community is a vital component to successfully developing, updating, and implementing the AEP and its companion plans or annexes. 4. Exercising and training on the plans are successful methods to initiate and maintain stakeholder engagement in developing and maintaining these plans. 5. Airport emergency managers and operators are being proactive in collaborating with stakeholders, both internally and externally to the airport. 6. Establishing an after-action report (AAR) and improvement plan process helps improve the AEP and supporting documents. 7. Using innovative AEP practices such as involving subject matter experts, creating stakeholder books, and establishing AEP-review working groups help facilitate stake- holder engagement, understanding of roles and responsibilities, and inclusion of expertise external to the airport. 8. The AEP in its current iteration is not as user-friendly as airports want because regulations surrounding development, update, and maintenance of the AEP can be prescriptive in nature and require significant time to get approved. 9. Aligning and cross-walking the multiple plans at airports [e.g., communicable disease plans, irregular operations (IROPS) plans, terminal evacuation plans, and so forth] or plans that could affect the airport developed by surrounding jurisdiction(s) (e.g., mass casualty plans, evacuation plans, or severe weather plans) is valuable to ensure plans do not conflict or have duplicate information, and enhance the airportâs ability to respond to and recover from incidents and events. 10. Airports benefit from using a gap analysis or the threat and hazard identification and risk assessment process to understand gaps in planning. Further research identified by this synthesis could delve more deeply into specific AEP practices such as collaborating with local EM organizations; developing a recommended process for airports to develop AARs and conduct improvement planning following exercises, events, and incidents; and understanding ways airports can more closely mirror existing EM planning processes.