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A Case of 'Just Pretend' Crash and Burn

In the Name of Emergency Preparedness, Airport Authorities Stages a Simulated Crash at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport.

(12/19/2010) Imagine the following. A Boeing 777-300 operated by a fictional Bali Gateway Airlines makes an emergency landing at Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport after flying from Kuala Lumpur. Prior to its arrivals in Bali, the Aviation Security team at Bali's airport are informed by State Intelligence Officers that a passenger on the aircraft is a suspected terrorist. As the plan crosses into Indonesian air space, the plane's pilot reports smoke in the passenger cabin emanating from engine number 1 which is on fire. The pilot then files an urgent request for medical assistance to stand by at Bali's airport as some passengers are unconscious while others are suffering breathing difficulties.

The troubled inbound flight lines up to land on runway 27, then overruns the asphalt, crashing and burning near the north-south road leading to Nusa Dua. On impact, the fuselage of the plane carrying 175 passengers splits in two. The "crash" kills 23 passengers on the spot, injuring another 62, but allowing 90 passengers to escape virtually unharmed.

Among the survivors are several terrorist who hijacked the airplane inbound to Bali.

The dramatic scenes were part of a preparedness drill conducted by the managers of Bali's airport, who, for the sake of realism, even created a life-sized mock-up of an aircraft that was set afire near airport's runway.

The general manage of PT Angkasa Pura I, Heru Legowo, who manages the Bali airport, said that the night-time preparedness exercise was needed to evaluate the ability of personnel, facilities and procedures to handle and emergency situation. Hero, describing the exercise held on Wednesday, December 15, 2010, said: "This was the first time such an exercise was held at night. Accidents can happen at any time, so we must be ready and prepares to confront any situation, day or night."

In all, 800 personnel were deployed during the training exercise. The drama, from beginning to end, lasted only 30-minutes and did not disrupt normal Wednesday night operations at the busy Bali airport.

Similar preparedness drills are conducted at lease once every two years at Bali's airport.