Situational Awareness: Critical for Airlines’ Emergency Preparedness and Response

Aug. 25, 2022
As new threats emerge, such as potential 5G interference with plane instruments, airlines must be fully prepared to deal with any emergency and mitigate further repercussions.

Airlines are often forced to address threats both on the ground and in the air, many of which stay under the radar and expose passengers, crew, and property to significant risk. Often a result of these hidden threats, aviation disasters can cost airlines millions of dollars and leave indelible marks on brand and reputation, while threatening the lives of passengers, crew, and bystanders. Airlines face around $9.1 million in direct damages after a crash, with indirect costs growing exponentially depending on whether the airline is responsible for the incident.

As new threats emerge, such as potential 5G interference with plane instruments, airlines must be fully prepared to deal with any emergency and mitigate further repercussions. The right tools, such as comprehensive emergency management systems, will help facilitate a fast and coordinated response. At worst, these mitigate the reputational and financial impact of threats. When done well, they help reinforce a positive brand image of airlines as forward-thinking businesses.  

Assess Flight Risks and Manage Emergencies

One of the most crucial elements of emergency management is the need for effective internal and external communication networks. It is critical that airlines and their employees have consistent access to information and data without administrative barriers creating silos. One pervasive issue that airlines face in emergency preparedness is a lack of coordination between airlines, airports, and personnel. Airlines must be able to disseminate information efficiently in any situation. Far too often, the airlines and their crews struggle to communicate, with information and correspondence failing to reach key stakeholders promptly.

Airlines must respond to a disaster without spending time bridging data boundaries and communication gaps; time should be spent reacting to the emergency with dexterity and confidence. With so many lines of communication that appear in response to a crisis, antiquated systems can lead to errors and wasted time. A strong emergency management program reduces these harmful communication gaps.

Maintaining consistent situational awareness empowers airlines to keep pace with their activities while automating the deployment of their emergency management plans. When disaster upends the status quo, critical information is often unavailable to key players. Any confusion amid chaos inevitably leads to difficulty managing the crisis. No airline member should be left out of the loop, and the entirety of an organization must receive the appropriate level of information.

It is also important for airline leaders to adequately train employees in crisis management to understand how to use a comprehensive emergency management system. Airlines must act swiftly and effectively from the ground up. Therefore, all employees must be trained in emergency response – from operations to passenger service agents. Sophisticated airlines also use emergency management simulation software to provide valuable experience using real-life scenarios. This will help guarantee that response efforts best reflect the airline’s commitment to safety while empowering every team member to leverage technologies most effectively.

Emergency preparedness technologies that provide tracking for passengers and crews significantly help airlines abide by the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act. With the proper data management and visibility, airlines can quickly organize while informing the necessary parties. Tracking elements will provide all the information on passengers and crew involved in a crisis, noting any specific aid required during an incident.  

Having effective emergency preparedness measures in place will also lower operating costs. Emergency preparedness plans will reduce duplicated efforts and consolidate work, thereby streamlining safety efforts. By implementing collaborative and flexible systems, havoc can be captured, reshaped, and redirected to make work more productive.

Situational Awareness Keeps Airlines Safe

An airline’s reputation will hinge on its preparedness and response in an industry where crisis is never entirely eliminated. It’s true that effective emergency preparedness and response tools require expenditure. However, once they become a part of your routine, an incredible sense of security and value is realized for airlines, crews, and passengers. Efficient emergency management will be the difference between maneuvering a distressing situation well or assuming responsibility for a poor response.

Brad Pond serves as Vice President of the Transportation Vertical at Juvare. He is 21-year veteran of the WebEOC adventure, having served in various emergency management and incident command roles prior to joining Juvare in 2005. A former US Navy Submariner, Mr. Pond earned his BS in computer science from Limestone College, and his MBA from The Citadel.