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Simulated Plane Crash Exercise Set For Saturday At Westchester Airport

Westchester County Airport.
Westchester County Airport. Photo Credit: File

This is only a drill.

Using a salvaged aircraft, a mock-up aircraft, dozens of volunteer victims, and strategically placed debris such as suitcases and airplane parts, the Westchester County Airport and Office of Emergency Management will stage a full-scale emergency drill to test the response to a catastrophic incident on airport grounds.

Beginning about 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 5 a plane will “crash” at Westchester County Airport.  A simulation will take place as one aircraft “strikes” another aircraft, breaks into two pieces and spews debris all over a section of the airport – resulting in one section catching fire.

The airport’s main runway will remain open during Saturday's two-hour drill. However, a runway and several taxiways will be closed during the exercise, officials said.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandates that all airports certificated to serve scheduled passenger-carrying operations of an air carrier aircraft with nine or more seats, like Westchester County Airport (HPN), must have and maintain an Airport Emergency Plan (AEP) designed to minimize the possibility and extent of personal injury and property damage on the airport in an emergency.

The exercise, which is expected to last until about 1 p.m. on Saturday, will serve as practice for the emergency service agencies that would normally respond to an aircraft incident at the airport. Police officers, fire fighters, other emergency workers and airport personnel will simulate the duties they would perform during a real emergency.

Included in the emergency plan are procedures for prompt response to airport emergencies including aircraft incidents and accidents, the FAA requires that Westchester County Airport review the emergency plan annually and test the plan through a full-scale exercise at least once every three years.  Westchester County airport opts to conduct the full-scale exercise every two years.

Volunteer victims who have been dressed up with fake injuries will be safely extricated from the wreckage and carried to waiting ambulances.  Inside the airport, another scenario will unfold where airline employees and the American Red Cross will be dealing with relatives of the “crash victims” and making arrangements to send them to a nearby hotel for counseling.

For more details about Saturday's exercise please contact airport operations at 914-995-4850 .

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