Safety task force also says lack of data hinders study into European runway incursions

Rules about pilot reaction to airborne collision avoidance systems (ACAS) must be made "as clear and unambiguous as possible", Euro-control has announced, following the first meeting of its new Action Group for Air Traffic Management Safety (AGAS). This is one of three areas in which immediate safety action is needed, says the group.

Formed in the wake of the July mid-air collision over southern Germany, AGAS's brief is to prioritise and accelerate Eurocontrol-led air traffic management (ATM) safety programmes. The 26 September meeting targeted three areas for "immediate attention":

implementing a comprehensive system for exchanging ATM incident and accident information; determining how to make the best use of "safety-net" systems - like ACAS for pilots and short-term conflict alert for controllers; ensuring that ATM safety measures already agreed should be enforced in all Eurocontrol's 31 member states. AGAS reveals that "a number of safety-related enhancements have not been implemented in some states".

Commenting on the AGAS decisions, Eurocontrol's director-general Victor Aguado says: "It is now of the utmost importance to maintain this momentum. We must pull together to help states make tangible improvements to ATM safety."

By April 2003 the AGAS will have produced an "action plan for ATM safety in Europe", says Eurocontrol.

Meanwhile, Eurocontrol's Runway Safety Task Force (RSTF), set up since the October 2001 collision at Milan Linate Airport, Italy, that killed 110 people in a Scandinavian Airlines Boeing MD-87 and four in a Cessna Citation CJ2, has revealed that some European airports experience 70 to 80 runway incursions per million aircraft movements. But study into causal factors is critically hindered by lack of data.

The safety information exchange recommended by AGAS is seen as a tool for identifying areas that need attention in terms of policy, practice or equipment. The RSTF will produce a prioritised action plan by January 2003.

Source: Flight International