Kenneth Wasmuth, a 37-year veteran of the aviation industry, is the training manager at Lanseria International Airport. Started 10 months ago, his training department is something Lanseria is proud of and takes very seriously.
With a past career as a professional aviation fire-fighter and functional manager for training at the Aviation Training Academy of South Africa, Kenneth Wasmuth is no doubt the right man for the job.
There are 85 different courses on offer, covering aspects such as first aid; basic fire-fighting; health and safety; airport disaster management; bird and wildlife management; and security training. It is the first and currently only programme of its kind in South Africa. In addition to Lanseria personnel, Wasmuth also provides training for the airport’s tenants, and external aviation companies will soon be welcomed too.
With standards set to the requirements of the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), Lanseria is an accredited training organisation with the SACAA in terms of Part 141 of the Civil Aviation Regulations, which covers issues such as fire-fighting for pilots, cabin crew and ground staff; Part 108 dealing with air cargo security; and Part 109 pertaining to passenger handling, aviation passenger security, and x-ray screening of luggage.
The SACAA qualifications Wasmuth employs are all internationally accredited and recognised, putting South Africa on par with the rest of the world. Training is both theoretical and practical; with daily runs so personnel are kept on top of their game. Importantly, the training also caters for illiterate people.
Regular fire-fighting simulations are seen as vital, as aviation fires differ in nature from normal fires, with temperatures of 1 000 to 1 500 degC. Then, being sent on search-and-rescue missions for dummies in an aircraft filled with smoke, allows the fire-fighters to learn to feel their way around in smoky conditions. The fire-fighting courses are extremely comprehensive, comprising aircraft construction and operation, basic then advanced aircraft fire-fighting, and finally five days of practical examination. The fire-fighters are re-trained whenever a new aircraft is introduced so they are familiar with its construction and systems.
The fire-fighters carry a kit weighing 8,5 kg and have to be kitted-up within 20 seconds of the alarm sounding. “It takes 4 minutes to burn through the skin of an aircraft,” Wasmuth tells SHEQ MANAGEMENT. “For every 60 seconds the rescue crew is delayed, they lose 10% of their passengers.” This level of training and commitment is unquestionably crucial.
Fire-fighting exams are done internally and externally – the training standard constantly increasing. Lanseria is proud that its fire-fighters regularly enter competitions, and win. First aid levels 1, 2 and 3 are also taught.
Courses in safety comprise health and safety, occupational health and safety, aviation safety, safety management systems, and hazard reporting systems. These are designed to increase awareness of safety in the place of work. After 9/11, it became clear that aviation, passenger and cargo security is everybody’s responsibility, Wasmuth stresses.
Lanseria also extends training courses to those providing additional emergency aid, such as the Fire Protection Association from Muldersdrift and other local authorities, for example. Simulated disasters, which are monitored and evaluated by the SACAA and various role players, are run every two years.
With the main objective being to save lives, it’s no wonder Lanseria International Airport is constantly growing in popularity – aside form being one of the most convenient airports in South Africa, it’s certainly leading the way in aviation safety and disaster management.