KEAHOLE — Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole served as the staging area for the Triennial Aircraft Disaster Exercise on Thursday.
The emergency response exercise is a mandatory certification requirement by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which tests airfield disaster preparedness and response by simulating a full-scale aircraft emergency disaster. The exercise tests and evaluates the operational capacity of emergency response in a stress environment according to the state Department of Transportation.
The scenario of a United 737 aircraft carrying 10,000 pounds of fuel crashing upon landing with 100 souls on board was played out on the runway Thursday. The multi-agency exercise utilized student and teacher volunteers from West Hawaii Explorations Academy who act as injured passengers.
Participating agencies include HDOT Airports Division staff, HDOT Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) units, Securitas, FAA, Transportation Security Administration, Hawaii County Civil Defense, Kona Community Hospital, American Red Cross, University of the Nations Kona Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), American Medical Response, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii Air National Guard 154th Wing, United Airlines and other airline personnel.