Main Mumbai Airport Fails Security Drill, 8 Dummy Passengers Die: Report

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Main Mumbai Airport Fails Security Drill, 8 Dummy Passengers Die: Report

The exercise was conducted jointly with Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific airline.

One of the country's busiest airports is not safe for fliers in emergencies. This is what a mock drill at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) yesterday showed.

A Full-Scale Aerodrome Emergency Exercise - Operation Black Panther - exposed loopholes in the emergency response system, with the preliminary report mentioning that eight of the total 170 (dummy) passengers died during the drill.

Ground turbulence

"The exercise, conducted to examine the prudence and efficacy of the emergency response plan to cope with an aircraft emergency, showed lack of coordination between the agencies," said a senior CISF officer.

The spokeswoman for Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) confirmed the 'casualty' figure and said, "We have to report casualties to the authorities as part of protocol. As far as loopholes or other details are concerned, it is not for public information and will be shared only with aviation authorities."

Expressing shock at the drill's failure, former pilot and aviation expert Vipul Saxena said, "I am concerned about the preparedness of MIAL and the security agencies in handling such situations in real life. I demand that the DGCA look into this on a priority basis and ensure the safety standards are met."

On their toes

The first-of-its-kind exercise was held jointly with Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific airline between 10 am and 2 pm, during which a simulated aircraft disaster was enacted.
 
mumbai airport mid day

Former pilot and aviation expert Vipul Saxena expressed shock at the drill's failure

This exercise provided an opportunity to response teams from CSIA's various safety units, including fire & emergency services, terminals, airside operations, engineering & maintenance, and security and medical services, to put their emergency training and skills to test.

Around 10 hospitals that included Lilavati, Nanavati, SevenHills, and Kokilaben Ambani, 16 ambulance services and government organisations - immigration, customs, CISF, police and State Disaster Management Cell - took part. To make it more effective, 800 volunteers acted as greeters, injured passengers and flight crew.

Status report

As per International Civil Aviation Organization and DGCA regulations, it is mandatory for all airports and airlines globally to hold such an exercise once every two years.

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Assistant commissioner of police (Sahar division) Sunil Sejwad said, "We are compiling the report on the basis of the response timing of all departments. The cause of injuries to the dummy passengers will be examined. On the basis of all this, a report will be prepared and submitted to the authorities concerned. We will then give them suggestions on the steps that need to be taken for improvement of security arrangements at the airport."

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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