All-out effort in safeguarding the "Air Lifeline"

0 CommentsPrint E-mail, April 17, 2010
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Civil Aviation Administration of China

Shortly after the earthquake in Yushu, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and all the airlines, airports and related companies launched the contingency plan. CAAC Administrator Li Jiaxiang requested the whole industry to spare no effort in rescue and relief works while ensuring the aviation safety. He further pointed out it should be securely assured that relief supplies could be transported to the disaster-hit areas, and the heavily injured people could be airlifted out of the disaster-hit areas. Under the leadership and unified organization of the CAAC, all regional Administrations made a quick response; ATM bureaus, airports, jet fuel agencies and other supporting organizations worked day and night with their utmost efforts; airlines gave priority to the interest of the nation and the wellbeing of the people, and 12 of them operated rescue and relief flights unconditionally. By 22:00 pm of 16 April, a total number of 168 charter flights were operated with 40 aircraft, transporting 3708 rescuers, 680 injured people and 423 tons of supplies.

Re-open Yushu airport shortly after the earthquake

The communication system was completely cut off after the earthquake. The CAAC Air Traffic Management Bureau re-established the contact with Yushu airport by short wave radio and was informed that there was no casualty in the airport. At the same time, the airport people, despite the risk of tremors, conducted a quick and overall check of the infrastructure and equipment. It was found that except for the wire communication system and external electricity system, the other major infrastructure and equipment were not significantly damaged. With the diesel engine power plant as the back-up, Yushu airport could maintain normal operation. CAAC announced the re-open of Yushu airport very quickly and by doing so provided an air link for the rescuer and supplies to the disaster-hit areas.

Set up CAAC Command Department for rescue and relief work

With a view to carrying out the rescue work in an effective, orderly and efficient way, CAAC established a command department in Xining with 5 sub-groups for transporting supplies, safeguarding operation, airport operation, air traffic control and medical aid. A command center was also set up in Yushu airport for coordination and facilitation among airlines, airports, air traffic control, jet fuel companies and the local government. CAAC Deputy Administrator Xia Xinghua went to Yushu in the morning of 15 to provide guidance for civil aviation relief effort.

Take effective measures to build green channels

CAAC requested: 1) the airlines to reschedule the aircraft and to operate the relief charter flight as the top priority; 2) air traffic control should give the flight clearance first to the relief flight; 3)airports should provide facilitated procedure and necessary convenience to the relief flight.

On the day when the earthquake hit Yushu, CAAC requested Air China and China Eastern Airlines to ferry the 3 high altitude aircraft which were originally undertaken scheduled flight to Xining, and to carry 700 rescuers and 4 tons of materials from Xining to Yushu within 12 hours after the quake. At the same time, CAAC organized 13 aircraft from Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Shandong Airlines and Chongqing Airlines to transport more than 1,000 rescuers and relief goods from Chengdu, Kunming, Guangzhou, Jinan and Chongqing to Xining. By 22:00 pm of 16 April, a total number of 168 charter flights were operated, carrying 3708 rescuers from Guangzhou, Chongqing, Chengdu, Yunan, Shandong, Henan, Shaanxi and Ningxia, transporting 422 tons of relief materials and supplies including blood plasma, medicine, tents, food and life detector. On 15 April a general aviation aircraft took an aerial image of Yushu.

Organize technical professionals to provide assistance at Yushu airport

Opened on 1 August 2009, Yushu airport is a new regional airport with only 3 scheduled flights per week to Xining and Xi'an. With the elevation of 3905 meters Yushu airport is the second highest airport in China and is the typical high altitude airport. Moreover, Yushu airport only has 4 aircraft stands, and no night operation capacity. Due to the complicated terrain, only the pilot with the special training can fly the high altitude aircraft to this airport. Therefore, CAAC requested that all the 39 aircraft with high altitude performance and its crew to be ready for the relief transportation. Meanwhile, CAAC organized 50 technical professionals in meteorology, communications, air traffic control and first aid to Yushu airport dealing with the large number of flights and highly intensified workload. 80 tons of jet fuel and 20 tons of diesel were also stored in Yushu airport for the power plant. By 20:00 pm of 16 April, a total number of 100 flights were operated in Yushu airport, while the normal average flight number was just one flight per two days. Yushu airport has become the most convenient and most efficient lifeline for the disaster-hit areas.

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Yushu Batang Airport started construction in May 2007 and was put into service on August 1 2009, with only scheduled air services to Xining and Xi'an. The airport is over 20 kilometers away from Jiegu County and is a high-altitude airport, the 2nd highest in China with an elevation of 3905 meters. It was positioned as a domestic regional airport and was designed to handle 80,000 people annually, 285 people during peak hours and 375 tons of cargo and mail by 2015. The runway is 3800-meter long and 45-meter wide. The airport is classified as 4C and can accommodate A319 aircraft. Its terminal building has an area of 4238 square meters and the ramp can support 2 C-category aircraft taxing in and out at the same time. Yushu Batang Airport was the third airport in Qinghai after the Xining Caojiabao Airport and the Geermu Military and Civil Airport.

Xining Caojiabao Airport has an elevation of 2178 meters. Its runway is 3000-meter long and 45-meter wide. The airport is classified as 4D and can accommodate B757, B737, A319 and A320 aircraft.

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