During the initial stage of a disaster, aircraft operate intensively and simultaneously use several airports as bases, given their mandate to promptly perform their duties. Previously, disaster management faced challenges such as insufficient airport apron space, shortage of aircraft fuel, and inadequate information sharing among various involved organizations. During the Great East Japan Earthquake, aircraft— pri- marily civilian and government helicopters—used the Iwate Hanamaki Airport, Yamagata Airport, and Fukushima Airport as bases immediately after the disaster struck. These aircraft performed tasks such as information gathering, emergency rescue, and personnel and goods transport. For this study, we interviewed personnel in the organizations involved in operating these aircraft and airports during the disaster. Further, we considered the operational realities of disaster response activities at each airport to identify the lessons learned and challenges met. We present our findings and detail the role of an airport as a disaster management facility and the challenges faced by an airport during a disaster.
2013 Japan Society of Civil Engineers