The Role of The Ground Handling Agent in Support of an Operators Emergency

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Sofema Online (SOL) considers the role and responsibility of the Ground Handling Agent during an Operational Emergency.


It is not usual for Operators to have their own Ground Handling Support Staff at Destination Airports and in any event to only have a very small core group of “own staff” at a given airport. As such it is typical to rely on the Ground Handling Agent (GHA) for direct support in the event of a crises which affects the operator’s aircraft or passengers.

For this relationship to work correctly it is essential that the emergency response interface is understood and tested periodically.

Consider the following elements and to confirm that you have an acceptable solution in place:

a) GHA ERP interface document for your station / airport prepared, maintained current & assessed as fit for purpose.

Consider it is not possible for The GHA to be trained on every operators ERP – so it is correct that they have their own – however as an operator flying to XYZ airport are you aware of this information?

Clearly it is not possible for an Ad-hoc business operator who could fly to over 1000 different airports to have a detailed understanding – but for regular ops it should be included in the risk assessment process – where one option is to hold a copy of the GHA ERP document

What other options do you see as available?

a) Do you have sufficient GHA “ERP” staff - Trained, and fully prepared to respond to major crisis (Able to support)?
b) Do you have a Local Accident Control Centre (LACC) - Suitable equipment, manpower & facilities?
c) GHA potential crisis first responders shall have access and an excellent awareness of the local Airport (Operator’s) Emergency Plan (AEP). Working knowledge of their own GHA ERP is a copy of this document available to the operator?
d) Documentation including Crises Contact Directory and Checklists available. Able to gather and manage all relevant reports & records to be kept (also training records.)  
e) Emergency Activation system in place for crisis notification of own GHA staff and communication process to update the operator (Reliable communications between GHA & Operator.)
f) Support the operator to validate the passenger manifest - Establish a system which will permit rapid and reliable identification of fatalities & any unaccounted for persons.

Important – Always seek & follow specific Instructions from Operator related to any PR or communications with Media Representatives

g) Provision of Stowage Containers, Bags, Folders etc.
h) Ability to deploy a GHA staff (traffic / ramp) rep to accident location to represent client airline / GHA as well as to the local airport’s Emergency Operations Centre EOC.
i) Provision of appropriate transport, ground equipment etc. as required also Technical Support if required at the Accident Site.
j) Interface with local airport airside reception centers.

»  For uninjured crew
»  For uninjured PAX

k) General Support for:

» Meet & Greet
» Manufacture representative
» Accident Investigators
» Aviation Authority
» Welfare for all groups  

l) Support for off airport reception centre (usually a hotel) for uninjured crew & pax.
m) Procedures in place to handle any cargo, baggage, mail, passenger personal affects.
n) Make suitable arrangements to support airline GO Team as required following arrival.

Next Steps

Sofema Aviation Services provides specific support related to ERP Training, Testing & Preparation of Process & Procedures. For additional details please see or email

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