July 20, 2024

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Uganda: Public Caught Unawares As Entebbe Airport Tests for Passenger Crash Response Readiness

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Members of the public were on Friday morning caught unawares as the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority carried out a partial emergency exercise to test Entebbe International Airport’s readiness to respond to eventualities.

The drills simulated a situation in which an aircraft crashes shortly after take off and one of its engines catches fire on the threshold of the runway.

It was presumed that ‘some people lost their lives and a number of survivors were critically injured’, which sparked off an emergency situation involving airport fire-fighters and other rescue agencies that were called in to ‘save lives’.

Several members of the public were in awe as ambulances, fire brigade trucks, security personnel and medics thronged the airport in the simulated crash response.

The exercise saw Uganda Red Cross Society, Police medical services, UPDAF, Aviation police, Entebbe police fire brigade and Uganda Airlines participate.

Addressing journalists, UCCA Director General, Fred Bamwesigye hailed the different agencies that participated in the exercise that he said helped test the ability of the airport to response to such emergencies.

“The exercise helped us to test emergency plans and procedures, communication framework, response times and coordination abilities of the participants,” Bamwesigye said.

He explained that such an exercise is a mandatory requirement for international Airports of countries that are contracting member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

UCAA last carried out a partial emergency exercise in December 2020 while the full-scale emergency exercise in November 2022.

The UCAA boss said such exercise are a normal routine for international airports and reports are shared with the international aviation body

“It is an extremely important exercise for audit and compliancy. Participants are now discussing what happened and where they found wanting. These reports are kept and are part of evidence we present to ICAO industry auditors to show we are compliant and always ready. When auditors come, we even show them where there were gaps,” Bamwesigye said.

He said there has been a surge in passenger traffic and aircraft movements at Entebbe International Airport.

“In May 2024, Entebbe Airport facilitated 92,298 arrivals and 89,036 departures, a total of 181,334 international passengers which is an average of 5,849. This comes on the heels of a daily average of 5,313 in April 2024, 5,548 in March 2024, 6,116 in February 2024 and 6,329 in January 2024. A comparison of May 2024, to May 2023 traffic shows that the Airport facilitated 28,324 more passengers in May 2024 than in the same period of May 2023,” Bamwesigye said.

By Nile Post.

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