The National Academies

ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic S04-26 [New]

Managing an Emergency or Incident Associated with Flight Diversion at Airports
[ ACRP 11-03 (Synthesis of Information Related to Airport Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Staff Responsibility: Kerry L. Ahearn
Fiscal Year: 2020

Tentative Scope

Most flight diversions are gas-and-go with no deplaning of passengers.    However, research for ACRP Synthesis Report 99 on Emergency Working Grous revealed that flight diversions occasionally trigger a need for victim or family assistance. A diversion may happen because of an emergency on the plane or an emergency may result from the diversion.  In either case the flight diversion may be to an airport that does not typically handle the size or type of aircraft involved or the number of aircraft and/or passengers all arriving at once.  Adding requirements for medical or other emergency response to a small airport staff entails use of the mutual aid network.  It would be helpful to compile and report on effective practices that small or non-hub reliever airports use when planning for and responding to flight diversions that involves an incident or emergency.  
The objective of this synthesis is to discover and describe current practices for handling diverted flights that involve an emergency response and to provide information on effective practices to small hub, non-hub and other reliever airports or general aviation airport that may receive a diverted passenger flight and not have adequate staff available.  The audience for this report is small airport operations and emergency response personnel.

Tasks and resulting information to be described in a concise report:
• Review and document pertinent literature
• Interview airports that may have dealt with diversions, either routine or involving emergency situations to document processes, lessons learned, go-to mutual aid partners, and open issues.
• Describe lessons learned from airports and airlines at small and non-hub airports that have responded to scheduled and non-scheduled passenger flights involving diversions with emergency response required
• Document effective practices
• Document case examples
• Provide appendix materials that display any helpful documents/checklists found during data collection.  Consider creating a checklist based upon finding for small and non-hub reliever airport preparedness to deal with a flight diversions that involves emergency response and possibly victim and family assistance
• Describe any further research needs to close gaps in knowledge. 

Partial Information Sources

ACRP Synthesis Report 99, Emergency Working Groups, 2019.  http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/179619.aspx

ACRP Research Report 65, Guidebook for Airport Irregular Operations (IROPS) Contingency Planning, 2012.  http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/179619.aspx

Ruskin, Keith J; Ricaurte, Eduard M; Alves, Paulo M. Medical Guidelines for Airline Travel: Management of In-Flight Cardiac Arrest. Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance, Volume 89, Issue 8, 2018, pp 754-759

Kaim, Gabriel D; Morrow, Nicholas A. Examining the Standard of Care for Failure to Divert During In-Flight Emergencies. Issues in Aviation Law and Policy, Volume 13, Issue 2, 2014, pp 361-377

Epstein, C. R., Forbes, J. M., Futter, C. L., Hosegood, I. M., Brown, R. G., & Zundert, A. A. J. V. (2019). Frequency and clinical spectrum of in-flight medical incidents during domestic and international flights. Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, 47(1), 16-22. doi:10.1177/0310057X18811748

Ryerson, M. S. (2018). Diversion ahead: Modeling the factors driving diversion airport choice. Journal of Infrastructure Systems, 24(1). doi:10.1061/(ASCE)IS.1943-555X.0000407

Topic Panel


TRB Staff
Kerry L. Ahearn


1st Meeting: TBD
Workplan Delivered 
Comments Due (Email) 
Draft Report Delivered 
2nd Panel Meeting

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Submit a Letter of Interest.

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