Operation Ready

BOS continues its effort to bring together disparate groups into a coordinated plan


The July 2005 issue of AIRPORT BUSINESS featured an in-depth look at initiatives at Boston Logan International Airport to create an integrated system for emergency planning and response. This summer the airport held another regional response exercise to assess how the initiative is progressing and to uncover specific areas that needed work. Here, Chief Robert Donahue offers his assessment of the region’s emergency response program following the most recent exercise.

The one certainty in the aviation industry is change, which constantly requires new business models. Change also brings new developments and challenges to airport emergency planning, which too requires new models. The collision of two aircraft, new large aircraft, and a host of other new age threats are reshaping emergency planning at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS). A refocused approach now goes beyond simply meeting regulatory requirements, but extending beyond the airport boundary and community, and engaging the region.

A recent multi-agency exercise series gave birth to airport/regional demand-based emergency planning. This evolved immediately following a near collision at BOS, as Massport enlisted representatives from all levels of government, foreign consulate corps, private industries in the city of Boston, and the Boston Consortium of Higher Education.

OPERATION READY-2007 was planned, designed, and executed over an 18-month period, and stands as the largest mass casualty exercise at any airport in the world.

Demand-Based Emergency Planning
The application of demand management principles provides the logic of a new emergency planning approach. Demand-based planning is designed from a comprehensive analysis of the multi-faceted correlation between Boston Logan Airport and the metropolitan region. Multiple stakeholders worked collaboratively to “peel back the layers” to better understand variables, variances, and critical relationships, with the following emergency planning factors:

  • Identification of stakeholders impacted by a crisis at the airport.
  • Analysis of airport hazard vulnerabilities and trends.
  • Economic and strategic significance of the airport to the region.
  • Type of airport operations (origin and destination).
  • Aircraft fleet mix and passenger density.
  • Aircraft passenger load factors.
  • Region’s core industries, and passenger demographics.
  • The depth and scope of incident impacts and consequence.

The Boston demand management model helped effectively shape “systems thinking” by all stakeholders to better synchronize preparedness across service disciplines. Systemic focus helped raise levels of situational awareness and design of a proportioned response matrix, ensuring resource capacity needs meet incident demand profiles for an entire emergency event.

Near Collision
In 2005, Boston Logan International Airport saw the number of runway incursions jump dramatically. While most incidents were minor and did not pose a significant threat, one did.

On June 9, 2005, two aircraft were placed on a collision course. An Aer Lingus A330 began its takeoff roll on Runway 15R. At the same time, a USAirways 737 began its takeoff roll from Runway 9. Nearly 400 people were on the two aircraft. They came within 100 feet of each other as the USAirways 737 delayed rotation, and stayed on the intersecting runway to let the A330 pass overhead.

A collision of this magnitude would have presented an enormous challenge, greatly impacting the response system at BOS and the region. This type incident is a representative “worst-case accident scenario” at any airport.

The Massport Aviation Department (the airport operator) worked closely with the Federal Aviation Administration, pilot groups, and airlines to reduce the number of incursions by redesigning taxiways, improving airfield lighting and markings, as well as enhancing ATC and pilot training.

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