News from CTIF Commission for Firefighting at Airports - October virtual meeting
COMMISSION "RESCUE AND FIRE FIGHTING AT AIRPORTS" - CTIF Commission “Rescue and Fire Fighting at Airports” virtual autumn meeting
A summary from the Commission´s meeting in October, 2021.
CHAIRMAN: Veli-Matti Sääskilahti
Welcome and meeting rules
Introduction of participants
CTIF Airport Commission chairman, Veli-Matti Sääskilahti
Veli-Matti welcomed everybody to the meeting. There is a plan to have the next meeting in person in Hamburg.
Introduction of participants
All participants introduced themselves.
News from each Countries and Companies
Manfred Sommerer, Austria: Traffic is rising. Long-haul operations to Asia and North America are opening as well. For FRS, during this period of less traffic was busy, and it is busy also now. Still category 10 in Vienna, also other airports have remained in their categorization. Topics which were acute during the COVID-19 crisis remain the same even now. Confidence in rising traffic; other airports and Vienna have done improvements during the low traffic season (lightning, runway etc). A very good winter season is in sight.
Andreas Rudlof, Germany: All airports are hoping for a good winter season, and spring. Number of cases go up and down. Hopefully 2022 will be better than now.
Trond Joranger, Norway: Recovery from COVID; 67 % down compared to 2019 still but the traffic is increasing rapidly. Completing proficiency checks has been problematic as it requires travelling. Useful outcomes from task & resource exercise; need to improve basic skills, more training with local security actors, need for realistic training. Setting up proficiency tests – used to be centralized, but now we have local proficiency tests. A lot of work done on training. Following up on all activities at airports have been eye opening.
Óscar del Campo, Spain: 17 out of 36 are requested for full exercises. 2 are done, 11 scheduled. Many requests of RFFS level of protection required, most of them are over now. Implementing physical and medical requirements. Volcanic eruption taking place in La Palma. Thousands of people have been affected. How does volcanic ash affect RFFS trucks and their equipment? We have contact with Italians who have had similar experiences.
Philipp Platzl: We will take the question forward. We have a lot of vehicles in places with a lot of sand; maybe this will help.
Trond Joranger: We have contact details for Iceland, they have experience in this.
Florian Monthoux, Switzerland: Only 2 international airports (Geneva and Zurich), the situation is similar to rest of Europe – less passengers than in 2019 but increasing. Some projects are on standby, like a new long-haul terminal (ready but postponing the opening due to lack of passengers). There are several airports with no RFF requirements; 5 with EASA requirements, several with ICAO requirements. National RFF directive will be updated and will include minimum requirements also to airfields and heliports, information about BPS and electrical aircrafts. RFFS will be required only when serving commercial air transport (CAT) operations (commercial ≠ CAT).
Trond Joranger: In Sweden the situation is quite similar. There are some commercial airports with no regulation but which allow rescue services to operate if needed. The issue is still open a bit.
Baptiste Mouth, France: Traffic in France similar to others. There has been some issues with brakes, where brake drum has cracked and broken. The issue is not just on single manufacturer’s firetrucks. Does anyone else have the same issue?
Philipp Platzl: Normally there shouldn’t be a systematic issue like this. Discs are on the one side stronger, and their cooling performance is better.
Manfred Sommerer: We have more problems with the drums – when you exit the fire station and accelerate and come back, the drum is very hot when putting the hand brake on, so you must let the drum cool down before putting the hand brake on. In our case, we switched to discs instead of drums.
Kim Olsen, Denmark: Airports are getting back to normal, also the training center.
Philipp Platzl, Rosenbauer: Struggling with the economic situation in the airports, but some compensation done from other fields. No new information on airport vehicles, but today there has been a launch on a new product, with which we want to support change to electric vehicles – a new extinguishing system for li-ion batteries. It enables a direct cooling of battery cells to stop thermal runaway. It is also safer for firefighters. The activation can be done via remote control from afar. Philipp will send information about this to Veli-Matti, who will distribute it to the group.
Lars Johansson, Sweden: The situation is improving slowly. There was a reduction to FRS team in the beginning of the crisis in Arlanda; only one runway and terminal. More traffic with e.g. Finnair and Ryanair from November forward and another terminal will be opened. Normally 80-90 000 passengers per day; now around 30 000. Looking forward to Christmas season. New normal in Swedavia; big changes. In FRS we have started to look for a new contractor, the contract with Securitas is coming to an end.
Peter Gould, UK: FRS have been maintained especially in the military site, seen as essential services. The biggest challenge going forward is the delivery service of goods; computers, components etc. Timescales may increase. Presentation about fuel and KFT.
Hungary airport: Two big infrastructural projects at the airport, cargo city in the airport and new main entrance given to them (easier access to facilities). Uneventful few months in general.
Octávio Teixeira, Portugal: In Portugal, no established rules for heliports. Category 5-10, there must be RFF.
Vasileios Stefanioros: In future there might be some, not many, regulations. Authorities must decide how to apply provisions.
Óscar del Campo: In Spain, specific rules for heliports or aerodromes developed as they are out of scope of European regulations.
Peter Tschümperlin: Different countries have different regulations in this matter, it is important to contact own country’s respective authorities.
Reduction of ARFF personnel
Gstaad is an airport in the Swiss Alps. It has mixed traffic with small aircrafts, gliders, helicopters, and business aircrafts. There is a total of 7 aerodrome employees and 2 employees are on site simultaneously. There was the aim to reduce RFF category from 3 to 2. It is an issue to know what “the highest category normally using the aerodrome” means in ICAO regulation. After review, FOCA's position is that the highest category is category 4, but proposal to reduce RFF staff for category 3 (2 instead of 3 firefighters). Safety Assessment was required for the change. Main hazard identified was delayed evacuation and fire extinguishing in case of accident with fully loaded category 3 aircraft due to coverage of RFF category 3 with 2 instead of 3 firefighters. Approval was given because the RFF vehicle meets category 3 requirements and safety assessment does not indicate any residual risk that has been classified as not tolerable. The change was approved by the airport manager. Would you have done the same? What is the highest category normally using the aerodrome in your opinion? What if the airport asks for category 3 with only one firefighter?
Peter: In Switzerland, cat 1-3 have defined how many firefighters must be on site.
Octávio: Madeira airport is a problematic airport because of the winds. They sometimes they divert to Port Santo airport. At night, they reduce the category. If a bigger aircraft is arriving, they call, and the category is increased again. The agreement is that every shift has 6 firefighters.
Vasileios: Normally, you can lower one categorization during a three-month period. In exceptional cases, you can go to an even lower category. If you have one busier weekend, you can do some adjustment, but you don’t automatically change categorization.
News from EASA
There has been some proposed changes to EASA regulation. A proposed amendment has been made to ICAO Annex 6, Part II (on Section 2 – Chapter 2.2 Flight Operations) – a recommendation that the pilot in command, in making a decision on the adequacy of facilities and services available at an aerodrome of intended operation, should assess the level of safety risk associated with the aircraft type and nature of the operation, in relation to the availability of rescue and fire-fighting services (RFFS). Another proposed amendment is in Annex 14, Volume I (9.2 Rescue and firefighting) - rescue and firefighting equipment and services shall be provided at an aerodrome when serving commercial air transport operations. These would be applicable from November 3rd, 2022. EASA recommended to the Member States to support the proposal and respond positively to ICAO; the proposal was discussed at ANC 217th session 26 April – 24 June 2021 and the state letter is expected to be published at the end of 2021/early 2022. The proposed revision of the ADR rules will be included under RMT.0591 ‘Regular update of the ADR rules’.
Virtual trainings experiences and the future – New ways of training in Avinor
In Norway, there are challenges related to environmental issues on the fire drill fields in Avinor. Another challenge is that the regulations demand regularly training of all ARFF personnel. What methods can be used to meet the requirements for knowledge and skills - and how? Can simulators be a method, in combination with fire drills training in the field?
There are some ideas for training in the future. For example, there could be theoretical courses on different subjects with a test (e.g. airport familiarization and aircraft familiarization). There’s a need to have practical tests with a test to demonstrate that participants master the skill they are expected to master – not just a certain number of exercises every year. One idea is to have live fire drills where the focus is on how to put out different types of fire – the best thing would be to have experience from real aircraft fires to get knowledge on what is the best way to put out a fire. A simulator might not give the right answer. Another idea is to have full scale exercises together with other operators at the airport as well as the emergency services.
Ørnulf Rønningen: A tactical simulator for ARFF personnel is being used. Different scenarios have been created which were then tested on three different positions - one firefighter (the driver), one watch manager and the simulator operator as “ATC TWR”. A total of 108 scenarios with different elements have been tested – elements such as 3 levels of skill and knowledge (basic, experienced and specialist); 4 types of aircrafts (Boeing 737 and 787, Airbus 320 and Dash 8 Q400) and 9 types of exercises with various levels of difficulty.
It is important to be realistic - It is fundamental to all training and exercises is that they have a transfer value to reality. The objectives of the training must be challenging and adapted to the right level of competence. Many factors cannot be simulated or filtered out, such as weather and wind, and other physical influences. There is also a constant need for adaptations and changes – as with many of the teaching tools.
Lars: If we could influence the airlines to spend more time with the airports in training, that would be a good thing.
Vasileio: Also, aerodrome actors, crews (also cabin) etc, not just airlines. It’s a matter of good cooperation. Real exercises cannot be substituted but there are things that can be done. It’s important to find a way to formalize all the trainings in simulators. We need to work together.
News from CTIF
CTIF is working as normal; the EC has meetings every two weeks and some Commissions are also starting to organize live meetings. The Delegates’ Assembly will be organized as a hybrid event next week (October 15th). There will be a new Vice President – and only one candidate, so she will most likely be elected. Canada will return as a member to CTIF. Other current topics include e.g. EU’s working time directive which will affect standby of firefighters and foams. There has also been a discussion to start a webinar series with Commissions about lessons learned – one Commission per month. CTIF is also pushing English to be used as a working language in all activities and in all commissions.
Response time, Task Resource Analysis, Rescue passengers on board and COVID-19 exit strategies will be postponed to the next Commission meeting.
Conclusion and the date of the next meeting
Sääskilahti will share presentations with the Commission. He also asked everyone to fill in the questionnaire – link was sent with the invitation to this meeting.
The next meeting will be in Sthamer Hamburg on 18th and 19th of May, 2022.
CHAIRMAN: Veli-Matti Sääskilahti
Veli-Matti Sääskilahti, chair Florian Monthoux
Vasileios Stefanioros Ørnulf Rønningen
Ole Jakob Hansen Baptiste Mouth
Andreas Herndler Andreas Rudlof
Manfred Sommerer Philipp Platzl
Peter Gould Kim Olsen
Trond Joranger Óscar del Campo
Peter Tschümperlin Tibor Molnár
Zsolt Földvári Lars Johansson
Octávio Teixeira Göran Lindgren
Taina Hanhikoski, secretary
Cover Photo: (Above) Heathrow BA airplane and airport firefighting truck. Photo credit: Wikipedia License. British Airways Boeing 767-300 landing on the No4 fire tender which was on its way to a call Kuwait A300 on rwy 027L. Date 11 February 2014, 11:28.
Author: John Taggart from Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex