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Jun 9, 2009

Emirates near miss reveals problems on the ground

Brain fade or incompetency at Melbourne Airport compromised border security and passenger welfare after the Emirates accident involving flight EK407 on 20 March.

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Brain fade or incompetency at Melbourne Airport compromised border security and passenger welfare after the Emirates accident involving flight EK407 on 20 March.

A copy of Melbourne Airport’s incident report received by Plane Talking deals with the debriefing of the full emergency response services involved that night, which comprises the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Customs Service, AirServices Australia, the Victorian Police, Ambulance Victoria, airport employees, Emirates and its handling or ground agent.

The critical focus of the report is the decision to end the emergency response by standing down the parties a mere three minutes after the aircraft and its 275 passengers and crew landed after the closest brush with disaster in terms of a non fatal accident to an airliner yet to occur in Australia.

Customs says it compromised border security.

Translation. The issue of passengers who unintentionally were being returned to Australia possibly in breach of their visas or following deportation did not cross the minds of whomever is being paid to be on the ball at Melbourne Airport, nor did they comply with their consultative responsibilities.

Nor was Ambulance Victoria overly impressed.

Nor the Victoria Police.

The anodyne contribution of Melbourne Airport to this report suggests they didn’t pay much attention to the issues raised, including the summary of what the Australian Federal Police thought, or felt they could get away with failing to acknowledge anything but a gate lighting and command post issue.

Further translation. Melbourne Airport has serious responsibilities to exercise in an emergency that were either forgotten or ignored on the night. It has been put on notice to sharply lift its game by two police forces, the customs service and the ambulance service yet couldn’t even address these concerns in plain English in its own document.

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands has reported and analysed the mechanical mobility of humanity since late 1960 - the end of the age of great scheduled ocean liners and coastal steamers and the start of the jet age. He’s worked in newspapers, radio and TV in a wide range of roles as a journalist at home and abroad for 56 years, the last 18 freelance.

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