How Can An Airline Mock-Drill Spread Real Fear & Panic?

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13/11/2009 – How Can An Airline Mock-Drill Spread Real Fear & Panic?

Airlines and airports regularly hold mock disasters drills, these drills are important. Disaster drills teach fire-rescue professionals how to react to place crashes, fires, and medical emergencies and keep them ready to respond to real incidents.

During some mock-disasters airlines & airports integrate their crisis communications plan. This plan is in place to assist victims, witnesses, family members of victims, address the media and immediately begin preparing public statements.

Today Oman Air held a disaster drill, in conjunction with Muscat International Airport (MCT) and the Oman Government utilizing a real plane ad a real disaster scenario…however the crisis communications plan ended up creating real wide spread panic when mock press releases were placed into the public domain and onto the Oman Air website.

A mock-press release from Oman Air was released indicating that Oman Air Flight WY900 crashed at Muscat International Airport. The mock-press release went onto detail that there were 158 people on board the flight, with 126 injuries, 29 fatalities, including all 8 crew members being killed, 3 unaccounted for passengers and well as five deaths on ground.

Following the release of the mock-press release, Oman Air went onto place a Condolence Message from the airline’s CEO onto their website, in public view.

While Oman Air was quick to recall all the information and clarify that Flight WY900 was a training exercise and not an actual disaster, the information becoming released caused significant panic for a short period of time.

Having spent many years as a photojournalist I am happy that Oman Air has a rapid crisis communications plan, I like that Oman Air was quick to create a public statement and get information out in front of the public.  I read Oman Air’s blog, and follow their Twitter account, as they are only airline in the region communicating through a blog…however the airline’s preparedness needed its own crisis communication plan.

This is one of the most unusual incidents I have ever heard of in regard to airline public relations errors…

…but at least we know Oman Air is prepared should a crisis occur!

Happy Flying!

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