Task force follows US lead to focus on reducing incursions at Europe's airports weeks after Milan Linate tragedy

European air navigation organisation Eurocontrol is conducting a survey of European runway safety incidents, especially incursions, in an effort to analyse the incidents and propose recommendations for safety improvements. The move follows a focus on runway incursions in the USA and the release this year of initiatives designed to cut the growth in such incidents.

The study comes just weeks after a runway collision at Milan Linate airport involving a Scandinavian Airlines Boeing MD-87 and a Cessna Citation C52 jet, in which 110 people in the airliner, four people in the business jet and four baggage handlers were killed.

Earlier this year Eurocontrol formed a task force to draw up requirements, define a work programme and make recommendations for improved runway safety. The task force includes the Airports Council International, the Association of European Airlines, the European Regions Airline Association, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the International Air Transport Association, the Joint Aviation Authorities, the Group of Airport Safety Regulators, air navigation service providers and airlines.

The task force will provide recommendations to reduce the rate and severity of runway incursions, refine runway safety benchmarks, and promote best practices for data collection, analysis and reporting.

There is little data on runway safety infringements in the region, says Eurocontrol, which makes determining a trend difficult. The survey, released earlier this month, is designed to collect detailed information on airport incidents, forming the foundation for a data-driven process, says Eurocontrol.

The survey will be supported by information drawn from databases, investigated incidents and a survey of selected airports and airlines. The information will guide implementation of technologies and procedures to enhance runway safety in Europe, says Eurocontrol.

The US Federal Aviation Administration recently studied six major European airports - Paris Charles de Gaulle, Munich, London Heathrow, Brussels National, Amsterdam Schiphol and Oslo Gardermoen. The study found a lack of harmonisation of definitions, including no formal international definition of runway incursion and a lack of formal air traffic management occurrence reporting systems in several European countries.

Although surface movement solutions are not co-ordinated at European level, the FAA found similar plans with common technological characteristics; surface movement solutions similar to the FAA's. It also found that while the six European airports share mandatory driver training and licensing, they differ in the area of vehicles in the manoeuvring area - ramps and aprons - and movement areas - runways and taxiways.

Eurocontrol's council has confirmed that the capacity-enhancing reduced vertical separation minima (RVSM) programme will be introduced in 41 European states and parts of North Africa on 24 January. RVSM will create six new flight levels between FL290 and FL410.

Source: Flight International