Emergency teams to be co-ordinated across GCC

Unified response centre would avoid confusion and eliminate wasted time and money, search and rescue conference attendees told.

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ABU DHABI // Search and Rescue operations are to be co-ordinated across the GCC in a bid to increase efficiency and streamline the response to emergencies. Sultan al Mansouri, the Minister of Economy and Chairman of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), said the UAE would help establish the panel and co-ordination centre. His announcement came at the International Civil Aviation Organisation's Global Search and Rescue forum in the capital yesterday. GCC aviation officials voiced concerns over potential confusion between different states in the event of a crisis. "A unified centre will help combine efforts, instead of each state working by itself, which wastes money and won't be as effective," said Saleem Hassan, chief of air traffic in Bahrain. "If a plane crashes in the region, there is no strategy to outline the role of each country, and who should send help." As well as plane crashes, Search and Rescue operation can be necessary for rescuing people stranded at sea or in mountains. Large scale operations are also enacted after natural disasters like earthquakes or floods.

Dr Khaled al Mazrouei, the general manager of civil aviation at Fujairah International Airport, said that, even within the UAE, there was no clear pre-crisis plan. "So far, we haven't had serious plane crashes involving civilians - the recent plane crash in Sharjah involved a cargo plane. But imagine if it were Emirates Airlines or a foreign airline company." Sergey Melnichenko, deputy director of Complang Aviation Training Center in Moscow, said it is important that the pilots and controllers could communicate clearly, because pilots depend on controllers for guidance and assistance.

The two-day conference was hosted by the UAE GCAA. @Email:hdajani@thenational.ae