Participants meet with the Atlanta Police Department Bomb Squad during their time training at the airport. 

A group of airport leaders from all over the world visited Atlanta in mid-April to brush up on emergency planning capabiilities. 

The visit was organized by CIFAL Atlanta, a United Nations-backed training agency, to coincide with an annual emergency drill at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport required by the Federal Aviation Administration.  

Dubbed “Big Bird”, the April 15 drill tested the airport’s ability to respond to a major plane accident. Responders from various agencies put out a plane fire and rescued 100 “victims” portrayed by volunteers, complete with injury makeup. 

The CIFAL training was part of a yearlong series in partnership with the airport, Airports Council International and SITA, the Swiss-based provider of airport technology with North American headquarters in Atlanta. The three-day seminar included sessions on maintenance, border security, operations and more. 

“We have a full class of 30, mostly airport operations directors and managers whose responsibilities include emergency preparedness. They hail from places as diverse as Argentina and Zambia,” CIFAL Atlanta Executive Director Chris Young told Global Atlanta in an email during the seminar. 

Participants also came from Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, Cayman Islands, Honduras, Jamaica, South Africa and Ecuador, and observers came from Haiti and Liberia.

Airport trainings will continue throughout the year, but this was the only one to be held in Atlanta during 2015, Mr. Young said.

Learn more about CIFAL Atlanta here

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...