Post-Pandemic Planning Part 1: Get Your Emergency Response Plan in Order

While countries are slowly beginning to open their doors again as the spread of coronavirus begins to stabilize, the world is going to feel the aftermath of this health crisis for months, perhaps even years, to come. As the lockdown lifts, it will be important for companies to have what they need in place for a smooth return to operations. Now is the time to make sure you are prepared.

One of the most important areas for your operation to focus on when preparing for life after the pandemic, is crisis management. While you may have made it through these trying times, there are still likely to be setbacks on the path to reaching pre-coronavirus levels of operation. On top of that, there are bound to be other emergencies in the future. Part of the new normal means making sure you are ready for all kinds of setbacks.

1. Run a Remote ERP Drill

Like a fire drill, the best way to make sure you have a good ERP is to use it in simulations.  You can even execute drills while employees are at home. Here are a few examples of how you can test your ERP:

  • Test your procedures for a variety of emergencies: Coronavirus has become a top concern for flight operations; however, there are still other crises that may lead you to activate your ERP. A successful response plan allows you to address any situation, whether on the ground or in the air. For example, what measures do you have in place if an aircraft is forced to make an emergency landing? Do ground operators know the proper protocols for calling security and medical professionals to meet that aircraft once they land? By running through different scenarios, you can pinpoint gaps in your ERP and close them before normal flight services resume.
  • Test health procedures: Even when travel begins to pick up, it will still be imperative that your employees know what to do during a health emergency. In the event you have an ill passenger, do you know whom to call? Do your employees know what extra supplies should be available on their aircraft and how to interact with a sick passenger to mitigate the risk of spreading any infection? Now is a great time to ask these questions, while operations are most probably less busy. To get started, you can take our quiz to review your current ERP.

2. Update All Contact Information

In an emergency, speed is essential. Operations cannot afford to waste time searching for the right person to contact. Here’s how to keep your ERP at peak performance:

  • Make sure all phone numbers in your ERP are accurate: An ERP should be a living document that adapts as staff members join, leave, or change roles. Take this opportunity to make sure contact information is up to date for each step of your ERP process. For example, do you have direct lines of communication listed for senior flight department managers and company resources? Will users be able to easily contact representatives from a Rescue Coordination Center, NTSP or FAA?

3. Make ERP Instructions Clear to All Team Members

The best ERPs can be initiated by anyone. It is important that your entire team (flight and non-flight positions) know what the very first action in any emergency should be. Here’s how you can prepare your team while they work from home:

Feel free to call us with any questions – we’re always ready to help.

The First Step in an Emergency Every Operator Should Know [+ Free Emergency Notification Form]

The best time to prepare for emergencies is long before they happen. By rehearsing, you could save precious minutes, and possibly lives, instead of panicking.

Download our free Emergency Notification Form

After all, you never know how you’ll react when an emergency strikes. Will you be cool and collected in the face of potential casualties or will you let your emotions take hold, even though the incident may be as minor as a sprained ankle from a hangar slip or fall?

Here’s some things to consider to be prepared:

Know your ERP

In aviation, a variety of incidents can occur any time – and you may be the one being called on first. Having a well established Emergency Response Plan (ERP) (that you’ve tested with your team) will help to ensure you’ve learned ahead of time which steps to take, so there isn’t a crisis you can’t handle.

1. Identify the source

The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure the emergency is real. It helps if the source reporting it is reputable, such as a Rescue Coordination Center, NTSB, the FAA, or a similar organization. But if not, then you will want to gather as much information from the source as possible so your team can attempt to verify the report.

2. Gather details

Ask the caller for details. What exactly happened? Are you sure your aircraft is involved? What is the tail number? What is the time and location of the incident? What other details about the incident or aircraft can they share? There are key questions to ask, and remembering them all during an emergency is going to be difficult. It’s important to have a form available to your team so they can easily gather the information needed. Check out this free Emergency Notification Form you can download and use for your own organization.

3. Initiate your ERP

Who are you going to call? This would be the time to check your Emergency Response Plan (ERP) to see whom you need to alert.

What if you don’t have an ERP? Call the most senior flight department member available – and make a note to get an ERP once this is all over – it will make handling future situations like these so much easier.

4. Rally your team

Keep communications lines open. Has anyone been in touch with the people involved in the incident? Don’t stop at passengers and crew, but consider maintenance and other staff also – especially if the incident occurred in or around the hangar. If it’s serious enough, be prepared to notify friends and family.

Consider who may be involved in the incident and the people available to assist with a response. This may include uninjured team members near the site; federal, state, or local law enforcement or emergency personnel; or even passengers who are able to provide you with information. Your ERP may also direct you to bring in other team members such as maintenance personnel or dispatchers, who can provide technical and background information relevant to the situation.

What if it seems like a minor issue?

Even if it seems like a minor incident, rather than an accident, you should still call the next person in the ERP phone tree. This gives the responsible parties the opportunity to determine the level of response they would like to take and, if things progress further, it will be quick to fully activate the ERP if needed.

What about a false alarm?

Even if the incident or threat seems to be a false alarm, you should still let management know about it. They can then make the final determination about the incident and decide if they wish to further investigate why a call was made in the first place.

When should you report it to the NTSB?

Although not all types of aircraft incidents need to be reported to the NTSB, you may be surprised at those you should.

For example, a lithium battery fire during flight successfully handled with a fire bag with no injuries, must still be reported as an in-flight fire.

Have a look at the 49 CFR Part 830.5 list to see which emergencies to report.

Final essentials

Make sure your contact lists are always up-to-date and easily accessible: distribute print-outs and keep the list by the phone. You may want to have your team store critical, but non-confidential, numbers in their personal phones.

Here’s some advice on what to include in your ERP. Got any questions about our Emergency Response Plan service? Don’t hesitate to contact us.

Download our free Emergency Notification Form

5 Things You Should Do at the End of The Year

With the new year swiftly approaching, it’s time to review how up to date your department’s operations and safety management are. Here are 5 key items to consider when going through your end-of-year to-do list.

1. Take stock of what you have and how old it is


  •  Are your manuals up to date?

Aviation is a dynamic industry requiring continual improvement. This means regulators and organizations often need to change and update guidance every year. It’s a good time to check if your manuals are still up to date in the areas of regulation, accepted standards, and best practices. If you don’t have an automatic update subscription, you will want to make a list of all the year’s changes and incorporate the applicable items into each of your manuals. You will want to review revisions from the FAA, ICAO, industry best practices, and country-specific regulatory authorities.

  • Review your ERP

An outdated Emergency Response Plan (ERP) is of no help in an emergency. Track any personnel, facility, and operational changes that have occurred and make sure they’re reflected in your ERP. Role changes, additional personnel, updates and modifications to facilities, and changes or expansions in flight operations will all affect your ERP procedures. Your ERP should be reviewed at least on an annual basis – you can read more about keeping your ERP up to date here.

  • Get a customized MEL versus an MMEL

Although the U.S. allows Part 91 operators to use a Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL) as an MEL, if you travel internationally, especially to areas of Europe, having a customized Minimum Equipment List (MEL) LOA for your aircraft will ensure that you don’t run into any issues with overseas authorities. In addition, an MEL is more concise and in general easier to use than an MMEL. If you haven’t made the transition yet, now is a great the time.

2. Check your LOAs


  • Are your LOAs current? Especially your Data Link A056 LOA.

LOAs don’t usually expire, but they do need to be updated from time to time. Take stock of your LOAs and check that they’re still valid for the coming year and whether you need any new ones for new aircraft, updated avionics installations, or new types of operations. Be sure to check your A056 LOA, as it’s been updated numerous times by the FAA in 2018, and your version might not be the most recent one. You can read about the most recent requirements here.

  • LOA and aircraft planning

If you’re planning on purchasing a new aircraft next year, keep track of the LOAs you might require – it could take anywhere between one to six months to get your LOA approved, so be sure to insert that timeline into your planning. Sometimes FSDOs will allow submissions of LOA applications prior to completion of the aircraft transition so that you can start to reduce the time that it takes to get the aircraft operational.

  • Review upcoming mandates

Although certain mandates are still a while away (like the ADS-B mandate set for January 1, 2020), don’t wait until the last minute to get your LOA. As the deadline approaches more and more operators will be applying for the authorization, which may cause the FAA’s approval timeline to increase. It’s best to beat the crowd and get approved now.

  • Don’t forget your procedures that support your LOA

Most operators keep their associated procedures in an RVSM Operations Manual or International Procedures Manual. When applying for a new LOA, the FAA may expect to see that this manual is up to date with the latest guidance, so keep that in mind when planning your to-do’s and timeline.

3. Conduct an internal audit


An audit can either be a fully detailed process of your entire organization and all manuals or a spot-check of your operation. You want to ensure that the procedures outlined in your manuals are actually being followed. If you find areas where this is not the case, you need to uncover the specific reasons why and implement corrective actions accordingly. Keep in mind that there may be times where procedures are not being followed as the result of changes to your operation that make the procedure redundant. In these cases, they should either be updated or removed from your manuals.

4. Review what your SMS is telling you


  • Are you getting the most out of your SMS?

Have you been using your Safety Management System (SMS)? Review the information that has been entered into your system including reports, risk assessments, and safety profiles. Ideally your entire organization should participate in safety, so check to see if your contributors represent all areas of your operation and not just pilots or top-level management.

  • Reviewing data and trends

With a year’s worth of data, now is a good time to analyze it. See if you recognize any trends, both negative and positive. If you’ve spotted anomalies, try to figure out how and why these happened. Once you have determined root causes you can implement corrective actions for things trending in the wrong direction and keep doing what you’re doing for those headed in the right direction.

  • Check your safety goals

Now’s a good time to check how far along you are in your safety goals and to review goal setting for next year. Have you achieved what you planned? Are there certain things you want to focus on in the new year? Consider what roadblocks you ran into this year or what elements helped you along so you can work these into your plan for next year. If you want to know more about setting safety goals, we’ve got you covered.

  • Conduct a safety culture survey?

In order to keep a pulse on the organization, you should consider conducting an anonymous safety culture survey for your department every year. This way, you can get an honest opinion from everyone about their feelings toward the state of your safety program. You can then plan training and meetings for the next year to tweak the current procedures or communications regarding your SMS.

5. Think about going digital


Now might be the right time to think about putting a digital system in place to help streamline your entire SMS process. Consider the effort involved in reviewing paper based SMS data, conducting internal audits, and administering surveys. A digital system can allow you to do all of these with the simple click of a button. Additionally, an SMS app can boost engagement as users can simply fill in their reports through the app when on duty or right when the event occurs rather than hours later.

By considering the above list, you can ensure you’ve thoroughly reviewed all the hard work you did this year as well as actually utilized the data you took the time to collect. You will be prepared for the new year and may find you already have a head start on a number of new year’s resolutions.

The team at AviationManuals wishes you a happy holiday season – please be sure to contact us if you have any questions. We’re always happy to help review your manuals or provide you with more information on ARC, our digital SMS platform and app.


Your Aviation Emergency Response Plan (ERP): Three Critical Items to Keep in Mind

It’s something you need but hope to never use: an aviation Emergency Response Plan (ERP). For any flight department, drone operator, or FBO, this is your “go-to” when an incident, accident, or emergency occurs. As you set up your ERP there are three things to keep in mind: basic structure, key elements of any emergency response, and the roles of your personnel when an emergency occurs.

Recommend structure.

  • Initial reporting stage
    Applicable to every incident, it guides users through the very first steps of responding to any emergency.
  • Checklists
    Tailored to different types of incidents, such as an aircraft that’s gone missing, a hangar fire, or a medical emergency, the checklists provide the additional actions needed to respond to each unique situation.
  • Detailed policy and instructions
    The heart of the program, it explains company policies, procedures for the management of the ERP, and details about expectations and actions when responding to various emergencies. Procedures to return to normal after the emergency response has concluded should also be included.

The content within each of the three areas above should be customized to your specific operation. It needs to take into account your size, resources available to you, types of operations, and areas of operations. For example, departments in Florida might have a section on hurricanes, whereas those in Alaska will cover blizzards.


Key elements of any emergency response.

  • Regulatory responsibilities
  • Crisis communications
  • Notification of family and loved ones
  • Coordination with external agencies
    These include investigative authorities (e.g., NTSB, police, etc.), third-party vendors you are working with to coordinate the response effort, and corporate resources (e.g., HR, legal, communications, etc.).


Regulatory responsibilities

This means taking care of “the legal stuff”. It may be legally required to report information regarding the incident to the authorities. An ERP should include contact details for the relevant authorities. In the event of an emergency occurring in a foreign country, an ERP can be especially useful to point a person in the right direction, since they might be unfamiliar with specific regulations.

Once an investigation has started, it’s important to remain involved so that you can engage your SMS and learn from the incident to ensure mistakes aren’t repeated.


Crisis communications

This covers handling of communication such as with the media. Usually, one spokesperson is appointed to make sure there is a clear and consistent message. The importance of this has become particularly critical due to the prevalence of social media. With incidents now reported within seconds of occurring, operators must step up their game when it comes to social media monitoring and responsiveness. Companies should establish social media policies, such as not disclosing any investigation findings via their personal accounts – anything and everything can be picked up.

If your flight department is tied to a corporate entity, you should also work with your head office to ensure your communication procedures do not conflict with existing policies. You will need to identify which communications tasks the flight department is expected to perform, and which will be handled by the corporate office.


Notification of loved ones

Without question, this is the most critical item when handling an emergency or incident. This includes taking care of relatives and the loved ones of those directly involved in the accident, but also extends to providing colleagues and those indirectly involved in the accident with a place to go for information and support. In all instances, the company should be the most trusted information source.

With news spreading so quickly, it may be unavoidable that family members find out about an incident through a news source first. However, a company should strive to be the first to reach loved ones, even if it means managing unknowns.

If you plan to utilize a third-party resource to perform emergency contact notification and/or support, it is vital to identify which tasks will be performed by the third party in your ERP.


Your role in an aviation ERP

Knowing the responsibilities of your role within a department will help in an emergency scenario.

  • Schedulers and Dispatchers
    Their roles are vital during the initial phase. Keeping the crew and passenger manifest up-to-date and verifying flight routes might provide early recognition of whether an aircraft has been involved in any reported incidents.
  • Flight Department Administrators
    They take care of the day-to-day operations. Their role would be to manage media and family inquiries, and should be trained how to handle sensitive situations. In cases of major or fatal aviation accidents, using an external crisis management firm is advised.
  • Flight Department Managers
    They typically have the central role in an emergency ensuring the proper execution of the aviation ERP. Aside from monitoring adherence to regulatory responsibilities, they also ensure everyone in the department is coping and provide resources for counseling.
  • Maintenance Department
    The maintenance department will most likely need to gather information such as aircraft maintenance data, logs, and records. Maintenance personnel are also a valuable resource for maintenance-specific subject matter expertise.
  • Pilots
    They are frequently the on-scene responders. Apart from their normal pilot training, they should be trained in first-aid, emergency signals and managing in-flight issues. Pilots are also a valuable resource for operational-specific subject matter expertise.
  • Safety Officers
    They play a unique role after an incident or accident. They are key to ensuring the flight department learns from and takes steps to mitigate against events reoccurring. They gather information from an investigation and engage their SMS to provide analysis, mitigation strategies / corrective actions, and reports.


It’s time to set up your aviation ERP

Although many flight departments may have considered aviation accidents such as a crash, many don’t always consider other incidents, such as a hangar fire, an on-board medical emergency, or even an incident where the full nature of the emergency is unknown. Additionally, smaller companies that do not have the support of corporate resources, may need to develop additional procedures to help them manage and stay on top of potential incidents.

This is why it’s important to have a unique ERP, customized to an organization.

AviationManuals can help you develop your aviation ERP to suit the needs of your organization – big or small. If you’re looking for a bigger safety management plan, be sure to check out ARC Safety Management.

Feel free to call us with any questions – we’re always ready to help.

Why You Should Review and Update Your ERP

An Emergency Response Plan (ERP) is a mandatory component of a Safety Management System (SMS), which is required by international standards.

Here’s how to be sure your ERP is kept up to date:

  • Keep contact information current
    • Out-of-date contact information will cost you precious minutes in the early stages of a response
    • Add new employees and remove former employees
    • Review phone numbers and email addresses for accuracy
    • Ensure corporate resource contact information is accurate (legal, benefits, media relations, etc.)
    • Ensure contact information for contracted resources is accurate (e.g., emergency response partners, CAA regulatory contact, insurance company)
  • Update the ERP with lessons learned from tabletop exercises (drills) and industry best practices
    • Ensure your ERP includes the latest and greatest content suitable for your operation
    • Revise procedures so they best fit the needs of your department
    • For IS-BAO-registered operators, it is mandatory to incorporate lessons learned from ERP tabletop exercises
  • Involve your entire department in the update process
    • Review the plan to ensure everyone is aware of the ERP, comfortable with assigned roles, and trained in what to do in the event of an emergency
    • Confirm role assignments are logical. Do not assign pilots to both the Primary and Backup positions for a specific role if they could both be on an aircraft involved in an emergency

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Contact AviationManuals for ERP support: or (240) 546 4030.



Does Your Team Know What To Do In An Emergency?

Could everyone on your team answer the following question: If an aircraft is overdue or unable to be reached after its scheduled arrival time, what is the first thing you do?

An Emergency Response Plan (ERP) is a vital document used to ensure proper actions are taken if the worst occurs. For operators of all sizes, it’s important to have processes documented not only for responding to the initial phone call and emergency, but also for ongoing considerations such as what to say to the media or press.

Here are 4 things to consider when developing your ERP:

1. It should be customized to the size and complexity of your operation

From the large corporation to the single pilot operator, an ERP should be tailored to match your needs. While large companies may need to concern themselves with interactions between internal departments (such as HR, Public Relations, and any established Business Continuity Plans), a single pilot operator may need to focus on logistics such as documenting where critical aircraft and personnel records are kept, as well as who should be notified on their behalf in the event of an emergency.

2. It should cover more than just an aircraft accident

When most people think of an “emergency” in aviation they think of an aircraft accident or incident. However, a good ERP should cover non-aircraft related emergencies that your operation could encounter as well. These could include medical emergencies, a hangar fire, or security-related incidents. Additionally, an ERP should have procedures to cover immediate and post incident responses, as well as long-term processes to return to normal operations after the emergency has passed or subsided.

3. It should be objective oriented

The ultimate goal of any ERP is to take care of your people and protect your brand in a critical situation. When developing your ERP, you should keep it focused on basic objectives to support that goal, such as assisting crew and families with travel, communicating effectively internally and externally, and supporting investigations or other regulatory requirements. As you think through the steps of your plan, be sure to ask yourself, “How can I best support our objectives?” and “Does this activity support the objectives?”

4. It should be built so anyone can handle the initial phone call and begin the response process without prior training

It is recommended to train your personnel on the ERP, which could include periodic practice drills and table-top exercises or, if possible, appointing individuals with ERP responsibilities. However, your plan should be clear enough that, if needed, anyone in your organization can pick up the manual and be able to initiate and execute a response. The manual layout should be clear and procedures should be formulaic with easy to follow steps. Language should be as non-technical as possible so non-aviation personnel can easily follow the procedures.


While we always want to hope for the best, it’s important to have a solid and comprehensive plan in the event something unfortunate does happen. This way you can rest assured your entire organization has the tools necessary to respond to anything that may occur.