Large-scale emergency exercise at Brussels Airport

Brussels Airport - General

On Saturday 23 October, Brussels Airport hosted a large-scale emergency exercise. The exercise was overseen by the Governor of the Province of Flemish Brabant and is part of the provincial disaster plan. It meets the safety requirements of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which every international European airport must satisfy. Some 300 people participated.  

Every two years, Brussels Airport organises an emergency exercise involving Brussels Airport, external emergency services and the Province of Flemish Brabant’s emergency planning department. The goals are to test the Special Emergency and Intervention Plan (SEIP) and mobilise the various stakeholders and partners in a full-scale exercise. The last such exercise was held on 18 May 2019. The emergency exercise was originally planned for April this year but was postponed, due to the current health measures, until the autumn of this year. In coordination with the Directorate-General Aviation, necessary alternative measures were implemented to ensure compliance with the Provincial Emergency Plan until the exercise was held on 23 October. 

On Saturday 23 October 2021, Brussels Airport Company organised the emergency exercise in collaboration with external emergency services, including fire brigades, medical emergency services, the Federal Police, the Ministry of Defence, the local authorities concerned, and the emergency planning department of the Province of Flemish Brabant. The emergency exercise tested the effective operation of internal and external procedures and the implementation of the new Special Emergency and Intervention Plan (SEIP). This exercise should result in the airport’s certification being renewed.  

The overall scenario for the exercise was determined in consultation with the province, the emergency services and external partners. To make this scenario as realistic as possible, most actions were simulated live using a training aircraft, taking into account the necessary sanitary measures. The exercise simulated the crash of a KetAir aircraft following a landing gear malfunction and the ensuing accident which resulted in deaths and injuries to passengers and crew. The provincial emergency plan was triggered.  

The disaster exercise, which lasted more than 6 hours, went very well and did not impact the operational activities of the airport. It ended with a joint debriefing to consider how all stakeholders could improve their working methods.