Military and civilian fire crews train for plane crash at Gibraltar’s famously short runway

EMERGENCY services took part in a successful live plane crash exercise on Gibraltar’s runway, one of the most challenging airports in the world.

A strategic coordinating group put fire crews, police and medical teams through their paces to see how they would respond in such a situation.

The exercise, which takes place every two years, is significant because Gibraltar’s airport is regularly featured as one of the most dangerous places to fly into across the world.

It is a well-known fact pilots hate landing at the Rock 1,777m airport.

This is because road traffic still moves through its only runway, it is quite short for commercial flights and it is often affected by crosswinds.

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ACTING OUT: A man pretends to be injured while a hi-tech fire truck puts out the fire behind them

In response to safety fears, the government moved to a build a tunnel on its western end in 2008, updated equipment and modernised the air terminal.

But numerous delays have led to the runway underpass not being finished nearly 15 years later.

Ministry of Defence units worked seamlessly to tackle the simulated emergency with civilian emergency crews that showed Gibraltar has what it takes to handle a plane crash.

As part of the exercise ultra-modern fire trucks quickly put out a fire on a mock plane while medical crews attended to the actors posing as casualties.

“Today’s exercise once again proves the ability of the government and British forces to work seamlessly together to tackle potential emergencies,” Commander British Forces Tom Guy said.

“Whilst there are always lessons to be learned, I am delighted with the level of cooperation and how the exercise went.”

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ACTION STATIONS: Civilian fire crews pack up after the biannual exercise

Minister for Civil Contingencies Samantha Sacramento said she was pleased with how it went.

“It is important that Gibraltar remains prepared for any eventuality and our preparedness for an air incident or accident is no exception,” she added.

The government’s disaster response was tested this summer when a fire knocked out the freshwater supply and a ship beached off Catalan Bay causing an oil spill.

Despite a number of scares, there has never been a serious commercial plane accident on the Rock since the 1950s, with most flights diverted to nearby Malaga airport in tricky conditions.

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