DETAIR invites journalists
By 2lt. Renaud de Quillacq
First published in
SFOR Informer #72, 13 Oct, 1999
Sarajevo airport - On October 8, Sarajevo's French DETAIR (Air Detachment) opened its doors to the press for a crash exercise. This exercise was the third of its type organised in Sarajevo but the first in co-ordination with the International airports civilian authorities.
First of all, DCOMSFOR, Lt. Gen. Charles-Henri de Monchy gave a welcome speech. In THE presence of several officials and twelve journalists, DCOMSFOR emphasised "the excellent co-operation of the last months", he then said that "the SFOR decision to allow the opening of certain air space to civilian aviation is a sign of the intention to make Bosnia and Hercegovina responsible for its entire air space".
A local air traffic controller asked a question about the government's wish to have access to the air taxes paid to Civilian Aviation. The general was very clear. "The Civilian Aviation must have its own budget, then the taxes will be paid," he said. At present, every plane which flies over Bosnia and Hercegovina pays a tax. In 1998 these taxes amounted to about 1,3 million dollars and is still frozen on an account. The international community wants to be sure that this money will not be embezzled and will be used to pay the air traffic controllers. For the moment, a lot of them leave the airport for better paid jobs.
DCOMSFOR also evoked an agreement signed on October, 7. From now on, above 11000 meters, civilian air traffic will be controlled by civilian aviation. NATO/SFOR keeps control of the military level, between 4000 and 10.000 metres. The space between 10 and 11.000 metres is still not available.
According to Bakir Karahasanovic, the General Manager of Sarajevo International Airport, this agreement is a good thing because it goes towards giving air space control to the civilian authorities. "If the Civilian Aviation had its own budget, air traffic would increase," he said.
After the press conference, journalists were shown the military airport and the crash exercise. "This exercise is aimed to validate our emergency procedures and to train our soldiers", DCOMSFOR said.
5:30 PM, the fire is brought under control. The plane used was the weary old Iliouchine 76 which is always used for exercises.
The "injured people" are placed on board and then evacuations begin. All of DETAIRs emergency resources were tasked, 15 firemen, one doctor and 20 first-aid workers. In the case of a very important accident, some other first-aid workers could be called. 250 people are working in the DETAIR, 50 of them are first-aid certificated. Courses are regularly proposed to all the units working in the airport.
"A great advantage compared to France is that in Sarajevo, everybody is living at the airport. It is very easy to call for help," said Col. Didier Vernet, DETAIRs commander.
Civilian staff provided a bus and took care of the more lightly injured people. They were taken care of in the civilian airport buildings. The badly injured were transferred to the German military hospital at Rajlovac where the exercise continued.