IATA Aircraft Recovery Task Force Conference Update

IATA’s Aircraft Recovery Task Force Conference was held at IATAs Montreal offices on 2nd and 3rd April. As one of IATA’s Strategic Partners, AMS Aircraft Recovery Ltd attended to lend our expert opinion and discuss key points emerging from the forums.

Preparedness & Training

Preparedness & Training still key issues for airports

The 15th meeting of IATA’s Aircraft Recovery Task Force (ARTF) Conference highlighted several themes and issues that remain causes for concern amongst airlines, airports, aircraft recovery teams and insurers.

Lack of Preparedness
One of the main themes discussed across both days was that airlines and airports continue to be insufficiently prepared for aircraft recovery incidents. Feedback from delegates suggests this covers virtually every aspect of preparedness, from a lack of strategy and not having an Aircraft Recovery Incident Plan in place, through to a lack of equipment and trained staff being available to deal directly with incidents and/or at Incident Command level.

This echoed concerns expressed at an airport fire officers conference AMS attended earlier this year, highlighting a worrying trend and apparent belief amongst airports that airlines and/or sub-contractors will handle the problem.

The consensus view from both conferences was that this approach has significant potential to increase operational downtime for the airports concerned (while they wait for equipment and trained staff to arrive) as well as adding to passenger inconvenience, revenue loss, and reputational damage.

Increase in Number of Incidents
Figures released at Conference highlighted a number of notable facts and figures, as air traffic movement numbers continue to increase around the globe:

  • Number of recovery incidents increased from 107 (2017) to 130 (2018).
  • Highest proportion of these were in Asia, followed by Europe, The Americas, South America, Africa, and the Oceania region.
  • Average closure time for runways was 15 hours.
  • Vast majority of incidents (almost 80%) occurred at single runway airports.

The significant increase in global airfreight flights and expansion plans for many airports around the world continues to raise the risk of airports encountering aircraft recovery incidents. In our discussions with airports, those with major airfreight hubs face significant impact on revenue streams if incidents shut down operations for any period of time.

Aircraft involved in most incidents across 2018
Figures released at Conference highlighted the most common aircraft types involved in aircraft recovery incidents across 2018 as:

  1. Boeing 737*
  2. Airbus A320*
  3. Bombardier Dash 8
  4. Boeing 747
  5. Airbus A330

* Both these aircraft are used for the practical training course elements at AMS’s Training Facility in the UK. This ensures Fire & Rescue teams, Operational staff, etc train on aircraft they will ordinarily encounter at their airports.

Most common type of incident in 2018
Airbus presented a review of incidents involving their aircraft across 2018. Their insightful data covered investigations into 50 Airbus events during that year, revealing that 91% of incidents involved de-bogging recoveries, and 9% resulted in other/salvage recoveries.

Recovering in accordance with ARMs
This issue was highlighted in 3 separate presentations at Conference, by Airbus and two of the insurance companies present.

The emphasis was very much on the importance of recovering aircraft effectively, safely and in accordance with the relevant Aircraft Recovery Manual to:

  1. Reduce secondary damage to the aircraft,
  2. Reduce the potential for environmental damage, both at the incident site and surrounding area (e.g. avoiding contamination of water courses).

Recovering in accordance with ARMs a key theme

Linked themes were the importance of reporting requirements and gathering of data to assist with improving aircraft design and aircraft recovery techniques (including the need to put Emergency Response Plans in place, Risk Management factors to consider, and training for personnel involved in aircraft recovery incidents*).

*AMS added Incident Awareness courses to our training schedules in 2019 and also provide bespoke training for airports and airlines covering related areas, such as Incident Command.

Looking ahead
IATA’s Aircraft Recovery Task Force continues to play a vital role in developing equipment and aircraft recovery training techniques for the aviation sector. This can only be achieved with the ongoing participation of airlines, airports and military air forces, as their input provides the hard facts and figures that enable this process to be as effective as possible. We therefore encourage as many representatives as possible from these bodies to attend and participate in next year’s ARTF Conference. Details for the 2020 Conference will be released later this year.

AMS’s involvement as one of IATA’s Strategic Partners underlines our commitment to improving aircraft recovery capabilities across the aviation industry. We look forward to attending the 2020 Conference and providing an update on the themes discussed in due course.

Meantime, if you have questions or concerns regarding the themes and issues covered in this article please get in touch by calling us on +44 (0)20 3289 9320, or contact us using the form on our website.