Belgocontrol achieves excellent safety results in 2016

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At the beginning of the year, Belgocontrol announced that it had perfectly fulfilled its task of securing air traffic in 2016: indeed, no incidents of category A (‘serious’) or B (‘important’) can be attributed to the air traffic control organisation.

A detailed safety report confirms the good results achieved in 2016. This proves that the efforts made by the company in recent years are paying off. The systematic reporting of incidents contributed to this.

Air traffic safety is the top priority for Belgocontrol at all times. In recent years, the company has invested heavily in systems, procedures and personnel to ensure even greater security. Belgocontrol is continuing its efforts: in 2017, it will invest a total of 37 million euros and will hire 100 new employees.

Reporting anomalies is a major requirement for improving safety. Lessons learned can be learned at the company level to avoid potential incidents in the future. Within the framework of Just Culture, air traffic controllers are encouraged to report any incident, without automatic penalty involved.

Historical results
Air traffic controllers reported 1,104 incidents in 2016, 62% more than the previous year.

In 2016, no incidents of categories A (‘serious’) or B (‘important’) can be attributed to Belgocontrol, a result never obtained before.

Belgocontrol carries at least partial responsibility in 4.15% of cases (ie 55 incidents): 44 times for category E incidents (‘without safety impact’) and 8 times for category C incidents ‘). The significant increase in the total number of Category E incidents last year clearly demonstrates awareness of the importance of reporting incidents.

Types of Incidents
In 2016, 97 airspace infringements were recorded: aeroplanes that entered unauthorised airspace in controlled airspace or failed to comply with conditions related to an authorisation.

On 44 occasions, the separation between aircraft was insufficient.

43 runway incursions were identified, ie an airplane, vehicle or person was involuntarily in the protected area of ​​a runway used for take-off or landing.

The number of drones (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) reported continues to grow: from a single report in 2014 to 6 in 2015 and 10 in 2016. The actual number of drones in controlled airspace is probably much higher, but many intrusions are not listed because they are not observed.

On the other hand, the number of incidents related to laser pointers has been decreasing in recent years. In total, 135 incidents of this kind were recorded last year.

New environment

The CEO of Belgocontrol, Johan Decuyper, welcomes these results, but sees it as an encouragement:

I congratulate our employees for these excellent results. They are proof that everyone at Belgocontrol is aware of the importance of safety and that everyone contributes to it in its field. Now the bar is set higher and we must do everything to maintain that level. We therefore continue to invest in security.

Under the 2014-2020 plan, Belgocontrol has set aside 97 million euros for investments, of which 37 million will be spent in 2017.

Johan Decuyper also highlighted developments in the air traffic sector:

We are building on the technological developments that should benefit aviation safety and society as a whole. This is how we prepare for the future multiplication of drones, which we will have to take into account at all times. Continuous Descent Operations (CDOs), our operations have been quite successful in recent years, which greatly improves the quality of life around airports. And finally, we are working on a clear framework for the implementation of wind turbines so that applications can be processed more quickly.

9 May 2017

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