Your Airport As A Disaster Recovery Hub- Knowledgebase Series-

By Jay White- General Counsel, CALPILOTS


In case you didn?t realize it, your airport is not only an economic engine; it is a disaster relief hub. Most municipalities don?t appreciate, or understand the disaster relief value of their airport until it?s too late; after it is needed or closed. The Bay Area earthquake and the Northridge earthquake in L.A. are both examples of major disasters where local airports played an invaluable role in the recovery of the area. Make sure you create an emergency plan and then ?formally? present it to your airport sponsor (municipality). Organize your emergency team, appoint people to the jobs and go through the trial run process. The following is a brief explanation of roles which will be required.


By planning in advance, volunteers can serve quickly and effectively as first responders after an earthquake. These emergency job description guidelines apply to both provider and receiver airports.

*Airport Coordinator:
Coordinates the entire operation; ground vehicle movement; aircraft movement; airport delivery and emergency supplies staging area; safety of volunteers

*Communications Coordinator:
Creates and maintains a current list of volunteer aircraft owners; Establishes communications with a coordinator at a receiver or provider airport; Uses cell phones; land lines; E-mail; (Small hand held two-way radios for local use among airport volunteers) to insure communication is received.

*Emergency Resources Coordinator
Determines the needs of distant airport, or local airport community; Examples of types of emergency requirements: Food, Drink, First Aid, Doctors, Nurses, Bedding, Clothing, Electrical Equipment; Tools; Flashlights; Batteries. Also interfaces with emergency resources suppliers, e.g., Second Harvest; Red Cross; medical facilities; aircraft fuel supplier.

The Loadmaster is in charge of loading emergency supplies equipment into aircraft, and must observe all safety precautions. Load sheet: Complete a load sheet listing all items and approximate weight Secure cargo: Tie it down to prevent shifting in flight.

*Flight Dispatcher
Briefs pilots: Weather, traffic, radio frequencies, condition of receiver airport. Coordinate Air Traffic Control: Advise Air Traffic Controllers of airlift. Track flights to destination and return: Log departure time and arrival time at both departure and destination airports.

*Receiving Airport Coordinator
Directs arrival aircraft, and coordinates unloading and delivery of emergency supplies to local agency for distribution.

LEGAL NOTE: Participating aircraft owners are to provide this humanitarian service with no expectation of compensation; they should not agree to receive free fuel, money or anything of value in exchange. That precaution is to assure the aircraft owner?s insurance will remain in effect and there will be no violation of FAR 91.

This is another in a series of Knowledgebase Articles brought to you by CALPILOTS. For more information send an email to and we will send you a disaster recovery booklet for your airport association. Get educated, then educate.

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