Page 9 - Linkline Summer 2018
P. 9

9/11: Crisis Management from a Canadian Perspective
On Tuesday 01 May, the Honourable David Collenette, PC, LLD, FCILT, spoke to CILT Members and Stakeholders about his time as Minister for Transport during one of the most traumatic days of the 21st Century to date, the 9/11 attacks on the USA. The event held in the Grand Canal Hotel in Dublin was organised by Head Office and by invitation from Mr Finbarr Cleary Vice President of CILT International.
 Faced with American airspace being closed due to terror attacks in New York and Washington, Mr Collenette had to choose how and where to react to accommodate or redirect the more than 500 aircraft that were incoming over the Atlantic Ocean  The resolution of the crisis has become a benchmark in crisis management and the power and benefit of clear, concise communication and decision making  Mr Collenette kindly spoke to Linkline before his presentation 
Looking back on the landmark, and tragic, events of September 11, 2001 is something which David Collenette has done many times since that fateful day  Although time, and subsequent events, can colour the recollections of that day amongst those who viewed from afar or were not directly affected, for those who were confronted with the fallout of this mass terrorist attack, the reality is the only story there is to tell  “The facts are the facts, and it’s the same story I’ve been telling clients, businesses and conferences over the past 17 years,” says Mr Collenette 
At 08:46am on a crisp clear Tuesday morning, hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into floors 93 to 99 of the North Tower of the World Trade Centre in New York City  At 09:03am, hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into floors 77 to 85 of the South Tower of the World Trade Centre  At 09:37am, American Airlines flight 77 is crashed into the Pentagon in Washington  At 09:42am, the American Federal Aviation Authority orders all flights to land and prohibits any departures  American airspace is now closed  These attacks claimed the lives of 2,996 people, including the terrorists responsible 
Many miles to the north, shortly after 9am, in Montreal, Canadian Transport Minister David Collenette was delivering the keynote speech to a conference of international airport executives  He noticed the previously attentive room was becoming slightly restless, as a note was passed onto his
David Collenette
lectern by an assistant  The note read simply; “Wind up your speech  There has been a tragedy ” The note included an instruction to avoid the media and to speak to his Assistant Deputy Minister asap, which he did, discovering the extent of what was occurring in the United States  “Immediately I sensed some type of terrorist attack had occurred,” he said  “Passenger jets do not just crash into tall buildings if they are in trouble  There are all kinds of emergency procedures for pilots in those situations, landing at the nearest airport or even ditching into the Atlantic ”
Leaving the conference, Mr Collenette was besieged by the media, to which he gave an impromptu press scrum which was, as he says, “one of the most incoherent of my career  I groped for words because I did not have the facts ” As Mr Collenette and his staff agreed to head back to the Canadian Capital, Ottawa, more facts were emerging about the attack on the Pentagon and the crashing of United Airlines Flight 93 into a field in Pennsylvania, an event which was later revealed as a heroic, but ultimately doomed, attempt by passengers and crew to wrestle control of the plane from the hijackers  While the plane crashed, killing all onboard, the actions of the passengers and crew undoubtedly saved countless lives on the ground, as the plane was destined for heart of Washington DC 
   L-R: Derek Bothwell, Eugene McNamee, Helen Noble, David Collen- ette, John Burke, and Finbarr Cleary
 The Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport 9

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