UCAA calls for calm after emergency simulation exercise at Entebbe Airport

Entebbe, (UG):- The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) has appealed to the general public not to get alarmed as a result of a beehive of activities arising from an ongoing partial emergency exercise at the country’s International Airport, Entebbe.

The statement came after the Airport on Friday, June 14 carried out an exercise, to test its readiness in case of an emergency involving a passenger aircraft accident. The two-hour exercise on Friday (June 14) involved a simulation of a ‘Compact Air flight’ (pseudo name), with 100 passengers and crew on board.

The exercise assumed that the flight lost power shortly after take-off and crashed at a spot adjacent to the Runway 12 threshold before one of its engines caught fire.

The staged drill included 25 people who were presumed dead and 15 of the survivors were critically injured, the incident which sparked off an emergency situation involving airport fire-fighters and other rescue agencies that were called in ‘to save lives.’

CAA in a public notice after the exercise revealed that a partial emergency exercise is being conducted to test the Airport’s readiness to respond in case of an emergency involving passenger aircraft.

“A partial emergency exercise to test for Entebbe International Airport’s readiness in case of an emergency involving a passenger aircraft has kicked off this morning at about 11 am,” the notice reads in part.

“The exercise is a simulation of an aircraft accident and how rescue efforts would be coordinated,” it added, before asking the public to stay calm and not get alarmed by the beehive of activities at the Airport as a result of the exercise.

CAA said the exercise is normally conducted to ascertain the Airport staff’s capacity to respond to any eventualities such as fire outbreaks or plane crashes.

Mr Emmanuel Barungi, the general manager for Entebbe airport, explained that both partial and full-scale emergency simulation exercises are a requirement by the ICAO. “It’s a mandatory exercise for International Airports that subscribes to the International Civil Aviation,” he said.

“With partial incidents, we involve critical responders such as medics, security agencies, and media among a few others, whereas, with full-scale, we involve the general public.”

According to UCCA Director General, Mr Fred Bamwesigye, the exercise helped to test emergency plans, procedures, communication framework, response times and coordination abilities in such unlikely occurrences.

Justifying the relevance of conducting such drills, Bamwesigye noted that passenger numbers using Entebbe airport keep increasing every month, hence a need to continue prioritising safety.

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 passengers every day.

“By the end of 2023, Entebbe airport recorded 1.93 million passengers compared to 1.57 million passengers in 2022,” Bamwesigye stated.

In relation to cargo, imports were 2,442 metric tons while exports were 4,010 metric tons in May 2024.

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