Norwegian investigators believe aviation regulators and the government should assess whether sufficient consideration is given to flight safety when granting aerodrome licences, following a series of flight-school incidents at Gullknapp Arendal airport.

The airport was opened in June 2017 and became a training base for flight-training company OSM Aviation Academy the following year.

As a result the number of aircraft movements has “increased a lot”, says Norwegian investigation authority SHK, which has been probing the safety framework at the facility.

SHK points out that the airport has a control tower but, while traffic has risen, its aerodrome flight information service was discontinued in March 2021 owing to financial reasons.

Arendal airport-c-Arendal airport

Source: Arendal airport

Arendal’s traffic increased when it became a training centre but it closed its flight information service

Three serious incidents over the course of just three months last year led to the investigation.

The first, on 19 June, involved a conflict in the approach sequence for runway 05 between two OSM training aircraft – a Cessna 172 and a Diamond DA42.

Two weeks later, on 5 July, another approach conflict occurred between two Cessna 172s at a time when five OSM aircraft were in flight, all piloted by solo students with “limited experience”, says the inquiry.

The third incident took place on 13 September while two OSM 172s were practising landings on runway 23. Two other aircraft subsequently arrived, one of them a JMB VL-3 Evolution whose radio was not transmitting. Ground operations personnel had been unaware of the VL-3’s presence until it flew over the runway, turning onto the right base leg directly in front of a solo-student Cessna.

“Overarching decisions at system level appear to have adversely affected aviation safety,” says the inquiry, adding that the assessment to grant a licence for increased activity “did not pay sufficient attention” to safety issues.

Gullknapp Arendal airport was instructed at the beginning of this year to examine whether the aerodrome flight information service should be restored, and this examinations concluded during June that the AFIS must be re-established in order to ensure an acceptable level of flight safety.