USAG HUMPHREYS, South Korea — On Feb. 2, Army personnel conducted an airfield pre-accident plan rehearsal drill with a simulated engine failure and subsequent emergency landing of one of 3rd Military Intelligence Battalion’s RC-12X Guardrail aircraft on Desiderio Army Airfield (DAAF).
The purpose of the drill was to exercise the response of the airfield base operations team, the fire department, military police (MP), emergency services, and air traffic control; to ensure their forces are prepared to handle an actual emergency landing.
After a warning was received from the tower, an alarm activated on the airfield. Personnel from the fire department, MPs, and paramedics staged off the runway waiting for the incoming simulated partially disabled aircraft. After a successful simulated single-engine landing, the aircraft came to a stop on the runway, and rescue personnel rapidly made their way to the scene to take necessary actions and assess the situation.
With a scenario of simulated smoke in the cockpit, one of the two pilots was notionally unconscious and was evacuated from the aircraft by paramedics, while fire personnel stood by to handle any flare-ups from the aircraft, and MPs provided security for the scene.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Edward Cinoski, Aviation Safety Officer, 3rd MI Battalion, explained that “the drill allowed for emergency response personnel prescribed for aircraft emergency landings to meet the quarterly guideline established by the garrison commander, while also continuing to enhance the relationships between those organizations; enabling them to act more quickly in response to future emergencies”.
From the vantage point of the 3rd MI Battalion, Cinoski continued, “these drills provide a chance to exercise their Battalion Operations Center’s inflight emergency battle drills and pre-accident plan. The drill and plans dictate notifications of key personnel and those party’s actions upon notification”.
For the pilot, it also provided a chance to polish his professional skills, bringing in the aircraft with a simulated engine failure. This is an exercise pilots have to complete on a periodic basis to ensure they maintain their proficiency, and the drill provided an ideal setting to practice the maneuver.
The pilots that took part in the drill, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Philip Louis, Battalion Standardization Officer, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bryce Desy, RC-12 pilot, both felt that these types of drills are important both for the pilots and the emergency responders.
“We train to typically to a point, where we don’t actually get to stop on the runway and see what happens at the end of an emergency,” said Louis. “It is paramount for us to do this type of training because we get to do the emergency engine shutdown, practice evacuating someone out of the plane, and actually see the process through from start to finish. Because of the sheer amount of effort, it takes on the airfield, it is not something we often see, but it is probably one of the best things we can do for our young aviators.”
CW2 Desy, who wasn’t told prior to the flight that there would be a simulated emergency, commented that seeing the response from the fire department was really eye-opening. He said he appreciated the opportunity to train with a real-world scenario and said he was absolutely confident in the emergency personnel’s response in the future.
Alfred Stilley, USAG Humphreys Airfield Safety, said that the biggest part of the training from his view is making these quarterly drills as realistic as possible. By using an actual airborne aircraft to declare a simulated emergency, it exercised air traffic control’s ability to manage the airspace and clear the runway for the arrival of the stricken aircraft.
Stilley said the drill went extremely well and that all agencies responded in a timely manner and executed their duties at a high level.
“These types of drills also test our lines of communication,” said Stilley. “From the pilot calling in the emergency to the control tower, down to responding agencies. Timely and accurate information flow is critical.”
Lt. Col. Travis Godfrey, battalion commander, 3rd MI Battalion, reiterated the importance of conducting realistic training.
“It’s all about saving lives. In the proper, rapid response on the airfield, seconds matter; and are often the difference between life and death when it comes to aircraft emergency responses” said Godfrey. “So, we do this to train our force to react and to coordinate appropriately with base operations, the fire department, and emergency services.”
Godfrey said that one of his main goals from the exercise was to continue to improve the partnership that they have with the emergency responders so if they had to actually put their plans into action everyone would know their role and respond in a timely manner.
Finally, Godfrey thanked the fire department and base operations for participating and emphasized that drill is done quarterly for the safety of the Camp Humphreys community as a whole.