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By Edith G. Alejandro

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (June 14, 2002 – Saipan Tribune)---The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has tasked the Commonwealth Ports Authority (CPA) and the Hawai‘i Airport Division to join hands in mapping out plans for next month’s Palau air disaster drill and airport emergency planning exercises.

This was disclosed by CPA-Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Unit Chief Stanley Torres, Jr.

Torres said the FAA will shoulder the cost of the exercise, adding that the CPA-ARFF, together with the Hawai‘i State Department of Transportation, ARFF chief Martinez Jacobs and the U.S. Coast Guard, will hold a full-scale air disaster drill.

The exercises will be held from July 22 to July 26, 2002.

Torres said that airport and emergency officials from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Marshall Islands, and Palau will attend the training.

"The mission of our training is to provide continued preparedness and comprehensive training to all parties who are involved in saving lives and property, particularly in the event of aircraft disasters," Torres said.

He added that the ARFF's goal is to maintain the highest level of aviation safety in all of the islands.

FAA Manager for Executive Resource Staff Barry Brayer, who is in charge of the scheduled exercises, said the training will broaden the readiness level of each airport in the region.

Brayer added that the drill will sharpen the emergency response skills of airport officials, EMO personnel and airport firefighters, especially in responding to any aircraft emergency.

With the combined resources of the FAA, CPA and the Hawai‘i-DOT, the training will train for more complicated types of emergency responses.

Officials from the Guam International Airport Authority will also participate in the training and have extended their assistance for the planning and logistics phases.

Palau airport officials are also looking forward to participating in the training and have committed to working closely with other regional airports to promote aviation safety in the country.

"As the FAA mentioned, regional aviation safety continues to be top priority of the FAA and all aviation professionals. That is the very reason why everyone is involved in this important event," Torres stressed.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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