CASR 139 / MOS 139 Review – a brave new world awaits Australian airports emergency exercising

Our man in Canberra, Matthew Harper, attended the Australian Airports Association – Emergency Management Forum at the National Picture Gallery in Canberra on 19 October.

Matthew writes that amongst a diverse series of presentations, it was the CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) presentation titled “Emergency Management and CASA – Current and Future Challenges” that had him on the edge of his seat.

The presentation focused on consultation review of the emergency planning and exercising requirements in CASR 139.  While some of the changes don’t appear huge, the change to exercising is significant, exciting, and not without challenge.

Central to this change is aligning CASR 139 with ICAO guidelines, bringing Australian airports in line with similar sized airports around the world.  Significantly, this allows airports to run modular tests, over a rolling three-year period.

The new section 24.05 Emergency preparedness — operators to whom section 24.02 applies reads:

(1) An aerodrome operator to whom section 24.02 applies must test the aerodrome’s emergency response plan:

(a) in the following exercises:

(i) a full-scale aerodrome emergency exercise conducted at intervals not exceeding 2 years; and

(ii) in each intervening year — partial emergency exercises, for example, a tabletop exercise, to ensure that any deficiencies found during the full-scale aerodrome emergency exercise have been corrected; or [our emphasis]

(b) in a series of modular tests in which:

(i) all modules are tested within 3 years; and

(ii) the interval between the test of any module and its previous test is not greater than 3 years.

(2) An aerodrome operator to whom section 24.02 applies must complete a review the aerodrome’s emergency preparedness procedures not later than 14 days after the following:

(a) an emergency at the aerodrome;

(b) an exercise conducted in accordance with subsection (1);
for the purpose of taking action to correct any deficiency found during the emergency or exercise.

(3) The procedures under subsection (2) must be reviewed with local emergency responders at least annually.

Note: A tabletop exercise conducted between the aerodrome operator and their local emergency responders at least once every 24 months is also recommended to formally evaluate emergency response arrangements.

If we consider subsection 1(b) as the significant changed, the devil will naturally be in the detail and as frequent flyers – thank goodness.  The move to a modular system should (in theory) ensure that aerodrome exercises are given greater scrutiny to ensure they achieve their aims and objectives.  This means better planning, better exercising and better rectification work when necessary.

So, why are we excited?

We see a great change in airport exercising as more airports move to modular testing using modern, cost-effective technology.  More flexible and engaging exercises can occur without disrupting the whole airport.  Modules can be tested and drills involving diverse areas of the airport can become more common.  The traditional focus on tactical response can be complemented with modules that practise operational and strategic management, from a crash site right through to the state or national medical response system.

The challenge will be making desktop exercises interesting, thought-provoking and engaging.  This is where new technology, particularly virtual reality (VR), comes into play.  In VR we can land an A380/A320/B747 or any modern commercial aircraft, and activate the emergency slides, respond fire appliances, ambulances and police cars.  We can train the senior operations team to look at the scene as they really would, from the safety of a control room or via virtual CCTV.  Even more importantly, we can analyse the decision-making in real time and afterwards—all without deploying hundreds of real (and expensive) first-responders and role-player casualties.

Welcome to our virtually new world of airport exercises.

VR airplane.jpg

Wash, Cover up, but please – also get the “flu shot”

AUTHOR: Matthew Harper

The Sydney Morning Herald recently ran a story quoting from Dr Chris Del Mar, Professor of Public Health at Bond University who was speaking about influenza spread at the ‘GPs Down Under’ Conference on the Gold Coast.  The piece emphasises the importance of social distancing and hygiene while downplaying the role of influenza vaccination in the fight against seasonal flu.

As one of the truly paranoid, I am both heartened and dismayed at this story.  Heartened that the issue of personal action is emphasised, dismayed that the message of multi-vector prevention may have been damaged.  In so much of our work, we help companies identify a range of protective strategies against likely events, and from my perspective, seasonal influenza is almost as likely as it comes.

Growing up, my mother and my grandmother were demons for hand washing.  I never asked, but I am sure it stemmed from their germ laden workplaces where illness wasn’t an option.  My mother taught in a high school, while my grandmother was one of the ladies who demonstrated new ways of cooking for the then Sutherland County Council.  I grew up fanatical about washing my hands at all the traditional times and places.

Fast forward to 2016 and I found myself on the 8th floor of the Royal Darwin Hospital on my second day working with the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre.  We were holding a morning tea to celebrate birthdays and the table was laden with treats of all varieties.  Minutes into the start, a fat lazy blowfly landed on a tray of magnificent sausage rolls.  Quickly and without fuss, the entire tray was whisked from the table and disposed of, the fly swatted and its body disposed of in an antiseptic wipe. 

My non-hospital, southern state mind was aghast – why not just throw out the piece the fly landed on?

My answer came from an amazing researcher Dr Matthew Brearley.  As one of the only other non-clinical people in the room, he was able to explain their actions in words I understood:

Where are we?
How did the fly get here?
Well, it probably came through either emergency or reception, it would have then slowly made its way through corridors, wards, on people wherever.  It’s probably been through the infectious diseases ward, children’s ward and wherever else.
Do you really want to eat that now?”

It was at that time I really started washing my hands to the standard that the team did.  I started using the pump pack antiseptic after passing through every door, never shared a phone, and never shared a pen.  I certainly never touched a door handle with bare hands without washing and I started researching disease spread from hand driers.  I lined up to receive all my shots, took my medications and probably had my healthiest year ever.

We don’t have the figures for the effective nature of the current vaccination for seasonal influenza, but denigrating its performance isn’t a logical solution.  Influenza protection, like so much else in life and business is about building prevention layers, and having a good plan for dealing with the unexpected.


home clean.jpg

New Privacy Rules

AUTHOR: Rick Stone

Most agencies and organisations that collect personal data must comply with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and the Australian Privacy Principles and are commonly known as APP entities.

An online checklist can help you determine whether your agency or organisation is an APP entity and is required to protect personal information.

From tomorrow, any APP entity must report any data breach that compromises personal data. If a personal information breach occurs, an agency or organisation must notify the Australian Information Commissioner and affected individuals once it has reasonable grounds to believe there is an eligible data breach.

A breach is considered to have occurred if either of the following conditions are met:

  • unauthorised access to or disclosure of information
  • information is lost where unauthorised access to or disclosure of information is possible

A breach must also be likely to be serious harm to the individuals to which the information relates. Serious harm must be more than (understandable) distress or upset according to the guidance notes.

This means that all APP entities need four things:

  1. A prevention strategy to stop hackers or other adversaries from gaining access to data including personal information. This includes security systems to prevent inadvertent loss (like leaving a computer on the train)
  2. A monitoring systems to detect a potential breach before it becomes an actual breach
  3. A response plan for potential or actual breaches (there is an exemption for notification if the breach is remediated such that no serious harm is likely)
  4. A notification plan to manage any notifiable breach, which includes a way of notifying the Commissioner and the affected individuals within a reasonable timeframe. This could include: direct contact; placing a notice on the entity’s website; and advertising in social or traditional media

This plan may also need to include elements of crisis communication as the entity’s reputation will be under serious threat.

For more information you can read the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s Notifiable Data Breach scheme resource page or contact us at Tigertail.

The Show Must Go On

AUTHORS: Kate O'Shea & Matthew Harper

Sudden loss of senior leadership is a risk for every organisation.

From Harold Holt’s disappearance while swimming off the Mornington Peninsula in 1967 to Richard Cousins’ seaplane accident just this summer, the reality is key staff can abruptly leave any organisation at any tme for a multitude of reasons.

Some of these can be foreseen and planned for, some can happen in an instant. Some of these have minimal repercussions for the organisation beyond the change of staff, some can become existentially threatening.

The recent spate of highly-public executive-level staff losses due to allegations of improper conduct sharpens the focus on planning for such events.

In the case of the Melbourne City Council, ex-Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle’s recent resignation revealed an anomaly between the council’s legislated requirements to ensure a safe workplace for elected councillors and the powers that the local government act provides the general manager of a council to manage councillor behaviour.

According to an internal report, the council has been unable to respond effectively because of “major gaps in the reporting and management of sexual harassment allegations” as well as no clear guidance on dealing with harassment allegations from Victoria’s Local Government Act (1989).

Preparation, exercising and execution are the keys to an organisation surviving and thriving when key personnel are abruptly lost.

A good recent example of loss of key staff well prepared for, well exercised and well executed was the departure of Craig McLachlan from the national tour of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The theatre industry often employs an understudy setup – where key characters from productions are rehearsed by alternate actors – to ensure the show always goes on. In these instances, personnel loss is prepared for (understudy chosen) and exercised regularly (understudy rehearsals).

 Adam Rennie as Frank-N-Furter. Pic: Annette Dew

Adam Rennie as Frank-N-Furter.
Pic: Annette Dew

In this case, McLachlan’s understudy, Adam Rennie undertook a smooth transition. Preparation, exercising and execution ensured his early performances received strong reviews.

Tigertail helps organisations prepare for the loss of a key staff through developing and exercising transition plans. All of which ensures your organisation can execute when key staff are lost suddenly.

Stimulus for the Strategic: why we need to invest in virtual reality

AUTHOR: Matthew Harper

When it comes to crisis management and preparation, I’m a believer in big exercises. Not necessarily big simultaneous exercises, but carefully managed, logically sequenced exercises. Where people from across a range of skills, experience and roles are tested for reactions and decision-making capability. 

One of the challenges when developing valuable crisis simulation exercises is providing sustained and appropriate stimuli to senior decision makers, including having them respond to the consequences of the decisions they make.

It’s easy to run a fire-drill that gets everyone out of their seat and onto the street. But a real crisis demands more complex and ongoing solutions than a simple building evacuation. Leaders need to make stressful real-time decisions. As such, exercises need to demand more from leaders.

Traditionally, decision makers have been incorporated into tabletop or hypothetical exercises. These are great for testing arrangements, practicing plans, challenging assumptions and establishing the relationships needed in a crisis. What they rarely do is challenge participants to make a decision and then react to the consequences of that decision.

Some form of virtual reality (VR) provides organisations the ability to learn, practice and test not only essential frontline skills but high-level immediate crisis decision making (communication, critical decision making and problem solving).

Let’s consider two real life examples in the aviation sector.

Airports test fire plans, response to a simulated crash and security lock down procedures. But does anyone park a 737-800 full of people, start a fuel leak, open all the emergency doors and evacuate 184 people onto the tarmac in real-time? Does anyone do it a second time, but introduce mobility and vision impaired, unaccompanied minors, non-English speaking passengers and minimal ground staffing?

Equally, do strategic decision makers test their decision-making if an A330 lands with a suspicious package on-board? Do they consider the range of potential issues? Do they watch the response agencies move into position? Do they manage the terminal shut down and the associated road traffic build up?  Can they cope with social media pictures from inside the plane and radio stations bombarding the switchboard? Can they do all this while still not quite knowing the full extent of what’s happening inside that large white metal cylinder?


Changi Airport does. So do others, but big picture exercises are still a distant reality for many.

Virtual reality is effective at putting leaders under stress. In the real world, key decision makers are often miles away from the situation and engaging via phone, text, television or live-streaming. These are the delivery tools of a VR system, the people in the room are real, the decision making is real and the simulation is where the improbable and impossible become reality.

Tigertail Australia will be bringing international expert Martijn Boosman from XVR in the Netherlands to Canberra to present a breakfast forum on VR technologies, the trends and its use around the world. Click here to access the booking form for event and registration information.

Day Zero in Cape Town - Who'll Be Ready?


Rarely do we know the date disaster will strike, but April 16 could be a bad day for residents, businesses and travellers in Cape Town. The South African government are calling it Day Zero.

The region is experiencing a critical water shortage due to insufficient rainfall and fast declining dam levels. In response, authorities have developed a Water Disaster Plan and a series of FAQ’s that are a sobering read.

On Day Zero (based on the City of Cape Town Water Dashboard), city officials will shut down all water distribution and require more than one million households queue for water at one of 200 distribution points. When you reach the front of the queue, you will receive 25 litres of water per person up to 100 litres.




So, what will happen on Day Zero?

The average Cape Town household will have to find containers, sort out a roster for lining up and be prepared to wait. Those families without access to a vehicle will endure the daily effort of carrying their ration home.

Some residents (disabled, elderly) won’t be able to get to their water at all. Will their communities rally to help them?

While the impacts on the residents will become evident very quickly, for local and international businesses the realities may come as a shock.

If your business is operating in South Africa, you need to consider your exposure to Day Zero.

In Cape Town:

  • Offices will not receive reticulated water
  • Water for firefighting is not guaranteed
  • Families may need additional time to ensure their water supplies
  • Services may not be available for all the above reasons
  • The security situation may deteriorate

Elsewhere in South Africa:

  • Impact on accommodation (office and home) as businesses relocate
  • Loss of markets
  • Impact on staff who may be helping friends and family forced to move
  • The security situation may deteriorate

In Australia:

  • Do you have staff with families in Cape Town?
  • Do you have staff travelling for business or holiday in the region?

Do you have the plans in place to deal with Day Zero in Cape Town or similar crises that could disrupt your business in Australia, the region or the world? 

If in doubt, Tigertail has the experience to help you prepare for your own Day Zero.

Hawaii Missile Alert: how would you fare?


Several years ago, while working at Emergency Management Australia, I attended a conference on disaster preparedness. It was in an earthquake prone, known tsunami hot spot, so - being me - I went prepared with a survival kit designed to cope with the first 48 hours of any crisis.

In the first day, we experienced a magnitude 5 earthquake and a series of rolling aftershocks. As such, I couldn’t sleep and was convinced the next one was going to be the big one.

On the second day, a Tsunami Alert System siren activated across the island. It was louder than any siren I’d ever heard before and I quickly began the seven-floor climb to the roof, survival kit in hand.

Arriving about 8 minutes later, I was alone except for a young American couple. They’d come straight from the pool, through the hotel, up the stairs and seemed hopeful of sharing my survival kit.

So, what happened? Turns out, it was just a test.

On this particular island, test announcements are made after the test occurs and we soon learned the sirens went off most Tuesdays around 2pm. While my new American friends were embarrassed, I was just incredibly happy to have completed the stair climb quite so quickly. The staff, it goes without saying, thought it was the funniest thing they’d seen for some time.

As a crisis professional, I’ve been watching the commentary regarding the recent incorrect missile alert in Hawaii with keen interest. The way people react to sudden onset crisis has fascinated me for many years. In particular, how businesspeople lead or manage during a crisis.

 Photo: The Daily Beast

Photo: The Daily Beast

The idea that America’s island state could be at risk grew steadily during 2017 and Hawaiian officials have clearly been undertaking work to be ready for any eventuality.

On December 1st, the Washington Post reported on the first test of the new Hawaiian emergency siren system and the next day a National Public Radio story covered the level of concern felt by residents, the preparation work being done in schools and the reactions of business and workers.

Importantly – but unfortunately – the media reporting after the false test focussed on the failures, errors and problems involved with the system, which led to the message being sent. In an ideal world, reports would have focussed on what residents should do to get it right in case of a real event.

The tests were not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and the employee responsible for sending the message lost their job. But officials who risk their reputations to prepare communities for crises should be applauded not vilified.

Individuals and organisations must be constantly thinking of, and planning for, potential crisis challenges. We should all be wondering whether enough has been done to prepare our families and organisations for sudden disaster.

Is an evacuation plan in place for a terror warning? Can your organisation secure its premises in a sudden storm? What happens after a chemical spill? Can leaders provide guidance or assistance to their staff during an external disruption, like say, a city’s rail system shutting down unexpectedly?

Whatever plans are in place need to be practised and drilled. There’s no point knowing what the plan is if you can’t actually follow through with the instructions. Efforts must be made to ensure front-line staff can provide the necessary guidance and leadership to other staff, customers and visitors. While a communications plan reaching everyone under your organisation’s real or perceived care should be enacted.

Tigertail can help your business prepare and exercise for the crisis times; and that will have you better prepared for everyday disruptions, like the trains.