Altering the scenario also helps test different functionality. For example, in past exercises, the ability of the video system to capture images from long distances was tested. Other exercises require the presence of the fire department helicopter, which helps the department test its pilots and their video system.
Iberia took away several lessons from the exercise, including the need to accommodate family members of accident victims, work with the fire department on specifics of the aircraft, and increase training opportunities between airline personnel and first responders.
The most critical lesson learned was that the airline must accommodate the friends and family of the victims. The NTSB requires each airline to have an accommodation plan in place, and most airlines around the country default to using an airport hotel. “But we only have one hotel at the airport, and it’s right in the middle of the airport,” says Dacey. “This means that the hotel might overlook the accident scene.”
Since the exercise, Iberia has entered into an agreement with several off-site hotels to put up friends and family. Iberia also contracted out with a third-party to work with the various hotels on the specific needs that they might have to address during an emergency.
The airline also learned that it needed to have an aircraft expert on call at all times. In the case of an accident, the fire department requires that the airline provide someone to brief them on the aircraft. A U.S. airline would teleconference the fire department official with someone from the parent organization. But, in this case, the expert was in Spain. The time difference and distance became a major issue.