Runway safety, a capacity enhancer

11 November 2013

Runway safety is, undoubtedly, a crucial capacity enhancer. Today, as part of its role as Europe’s ATM Network Manager, EUROCONTROL is increasingly aware of the important role airports play in the overall effectiveness and safety of the Network. Alleviating known airport ‘pinch points’ to improve efficiency and reduce delays is one of our main activities.

A prime example is the collaborative work that has been undertaken in Turkey to reduce delays affecting Istanbul airports in times of exceptional traffic growth.

As reported in the 2013 EUROCONTROL Challenges for Growth Report, the global economic downturn has resulted in a sharp fall in expected airport (runway) capacity expansion plans. This means that at a European level, at least, there will continue to be an overall (runway) capacity shortfall for the foreseeable future. So, we need to understand that as growth hopefully returns to Europe, the pressures and stresses on runway utilisation are likely to intensify. This growth can be safely accommodated - as the situation in Turkey proves.

Having said that, one must recognise that pilots, controllers and other aerodrome operatives - indeed, anybody associated with delivering airport operations, especially on or around runways - will face increasing strain. It is against this backdrop of limited infrastructure development and increasing demand that the challenge to maintain and improve runway safety levels must be seen.

On 6-8 November 2013, the Turkish DGCA hosted a 3-day Regional Runway Safety Seminar, organised by ICAO, EUROCONTROL and IATA in Istanbul.

The proceedings were opened by statements from the ICAO Secretary General, Raymond Benjamin, the Deputy Director General Turkey DGCA, Haydar Yalcin, Arkady Merkolov from IATA and Richard Lawrence from EUROCONTROL.

The Seminar’s 75+ participants were a mix of aircraft operators, aerodrome operators, air navigation service providers and civil aviation authorities (including EASA and the FAA). There was a lively exchange of views and perspectives on the importance of runway safety in aircraft operations. The delegates discussed many facets of runway incursion and excursion prevention and mitigation and the implementation of related European action plans. There was a particular emphasis on the role of local runway safety teams and the new ICAO guidance material that is now available to help airports establish these key operational safety groups.     

“Events such as the Regional Runway Safety Seminar held in Istanbul enable us to take steps to rise to the challenge of meeting the demand for increased runway utilisation, safely. By sharing safety knowledge and best practices, we increase awareness and help move the industry towards closer coordination and harmonisation of international safety and operational standards,” observed Richard Lawrence, safety expert at EUROCONTROL. “That’s why I see this seminar as an excellent opportunity for all of us to learn more about what other parts of the aviation industry are doing to enhance runway safety,” he continued.

EUROCONTROL has a long history of supporting runway safety. The Agency was instrumental in developing and then supporting the implementation of the European Action Plans for the Prevention of Runway Incursion (EAPPRI) to the more recent European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Excursions (EAPPRE) released earlier this year.

For more information, contact Richard ‘Sid’ Lawrence, safety expert.

Related news