Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) is the UK's premier international airport from which some 80 airlines fly direct to over 180 destinations worldwide.

The airport, operating at 98% capacity, enables close to 76M passengers to make over 470,000 transport movements a year, or over 1200 a day. The UK Government's decision in Oct 2016 to confirm Heathrow as its preferred option for expansion of airport capacity in the South East presents the opportunity for a further 260,000 flights a year. The current operating environment, and future developments, serve to heighten the value rightly placed by the airport on ensuring resilient services.

HAL has developed a comprehensive capability regards organisational resilience, including incident and continuity response. This capability reflects the fact that significant incidents, if not managed, have the potential to cause a ripple effect of disruption. HAL acknowledges that the timely and effective employment of the incident and continuity capability resides in the competency of the people assigned roles and responsibilities within incident teams. These teams, the members of which include Heathrow staff, suppliers and other specialists, must therefore be able to work effectively when they are called upon, including coordinating efforts across HAL and with partner organisations. Consequently HAL wished to provide a programme of bespoke training and practical exercising for staff with incident team roles. The requirement was to support staff members by enhancing their awareness of plans and protocols whilst introducing best practice tools and techniques that they could employ in roles. A subsidiary aim was to identify any areas in which the current provisions might be enhanced.

Risk and Resilience were selected by HAL to support this incident management training and enhancement programme. Our team met Heathrow staff to agree the aims, objectives and format of the programme elements. We read into all relevant plans and spent time at the airport familiarising ourselves with operations, interviewing key people and building the programme materials, including the practical exercising elements. Leveraging this preparatory stage we developed, in conjunction with HAL staff, a bespoke programme of incident management courses, which we then delivered and reported on. This programme included courses for those with leading roles in incident management, drawn from the stakeholder community and Heathrow's own people, as well as courses for HAL’s Incident Management Teams.

The programme was extremely well received, promoting a deeper appreciation of the challenges, tools and techniques associated with incident and continuity management. It enabled a wider understanding of the plans and the various roles to be reached by the participants and drove out a number of key learning points that, along with specific recommendations, were documented in our report. HAL have since used these recommendations to ensure further capability enhancements.

"Responding to incidents at Heathrow can be a challenging and complex experience. We felt that Risk and Resilience appreciated this from the start and worked hard to develop an understanding of our unique environment, pressures and people before building this knowledge into the training and practical exercise solutions they developed specifically for us. Our people benefitted greatly from this well considered and delivered engagement; as did our processes from the professional and practical guidance they provided."

Duncan Byers

Resilience Manager