The devastating effects of the hurricanes currently sweeping across the Caribbean and United States of America has highlighted the important role of airports and the airline industry. While first thoughts must be for the safety of residents and rescue of those left stranded, the emphasis will quickly shift to the recovery operation.
The aftermath will have left many islands in a communications vacuum, and bringing an airport back online may be an arduous task. One of the key tasks will be reviewing the jet fuel supply, and this will hinge on the effectiveness of the airline operator, or aviation fuel facility operator, which may be different organisations.
The need for a robust contingency plan when events such as these happen, to ensure that vulnerable locations are able to either begin operations, continue operating or shut down safely to prevent risk to the terminal, aircraft and people.
There is generally only one fuel farm at each airport, which makes it difficult to plan for contingency. Without fuel the airport cannot function, so ensuring that the supply is safe from damage, or that there are reserves available nearby should the fuel farm be compromised, should make up an essential part of any airport’s contingency plan. When aircraft are grounded there needs to be a careful plan for how resource and expertise is made available, and this may account for situations unique to individual airports.
Modelling how an airport fuel facility operates at the time of disaster such as this, or any other similar event such as war or terror, can ensure that the airport is prepared and reactive.
Although we are still witnessing the full extent of damage caused by hurricanes Irma and José, what we can already learn is that airports must safeguard from future events by with a robust plan should the worst happen.
John Pitts, eJet International.Back to Latest News