New failure at Belgocontrol: Pilots worry about air safety


On 7 June 2017, following a new failure at Belgocontrol, the Belgian Cockpit Association published a Press Release urging Belgocontrol to immediately take all appropriate measures to ensure air safety.

On June 6, 2017, Belgocontrol, the air traffic control agency in Belgium, again suffered a technical breakdown. This is the third incident in two years. Fortunately, thanks to the professionalism of the air traffic controllers and the backup system, no major incident is to be deplored. However, the pilots union BeCA (Belgian Cockpit Association) is concerned about this situation and urges Belgocontrol to take the necessary measures to remedy the recurring problems that threaten aviation safety and the sustainability of air traffic control in Belgium.

According to the information available to BeCA, on Tuesday 6 June 2017, as a result of the disconnection of a cable by mistake, all the radar screens of the primary system and the secondary backup system went out for about ten minutes. The air traffic controllers were therefore forced to work on the third and last fallback system, which therefore does not have all the functionalities of the usual system. This is the third incident in two years. Indeed, on May 27, 2015, Belgocontrol suffered a power failure that paralysed Belgian airspace for several hours, resulting in the cancellation and delay of many flights. On 12 April 2016, Belgian airspace was once again closed due to a lack of air traffic controllers to provide service.

This situation is unacceptable and raises many questions about the safety and sustainability of Belgian air traffic control. As BeCA has already emphasized in a press release and in a letter to the Minister of Mobility, Mr Bellot, in April 2016, it is high time for Belgocontrol to take the necessary measures to:

  • Shed light on these three events and understand the underlying problems behind these incidents;
  • Solve the problems as soon as possible.

To date, these events have fortunately not led to any major incidents, but they reveal a serious structural problem. Belgocontrol cannot afford to remain inactive and must assume its responsibilities to ensure air safety, says BeCA.

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