Industry delivers runway excursion action plan

European air navigation safety agency Eurocontrol has issued its European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Excursions.

According to ICAO, runway excursions are a persistent problem and their numbers have not decreased in more than 20 years. The Flight Safety Foundation have said that runway excursions are the most common type of aviation accident, accounting for up to 33% of accidents over the last 16 years.

This European Action Plan, directed to all providers and users of European aerodromes and all European aircraft operators, is the result of the combined and sustained efforts of organisations(*) involved in all areas of runway operations and is a deliverable of the European Aviation Safety Plan (EASp).

Although the focus of this work has been on preventing runway excursions in the European region, it is acknowledged that runway excursions are a global problem and therefore, the content of the Action Plan reinforces the need to comply with ICAO provisions for the safety of global aviation.

The commitment of these organisations and of all operational staff is to prevent runway excursions using all practicable means available ranging from the design of the aircraft to airspace, procedures and technologies. Their intention is to enhance runway safety by advocating the implementation of the recommendations it contains.

Central to the recommendations is the uniform and consistent application of ICAO provisions. Whilst technology is undoubtedly part of the solution, training on unfamiliar situations that may lead to runway excursions is key to their prevention. “Rigorous and realistic training scenarios will better prepare operational staff to cope with decisions to Go Around or reject a takeoff and lead to the execution of the correct and safe manoeuvres,” said Tony Licu, Head of Eurocontrol’s Safety Unit.

There is an obvious need to reach a wide audience with the information contained in this action plan and each organisation conducting runway operations is invited to review and prioritise the proposed recommendations.

“This action plan is the perfect example of a joint European effort to develop a common and coordinated response to a well-known problem. It is now time that we conclude the planning and start the implementation. We will save no effort in getting the risk properly reduced,” emphasised Jacques Dopagne, Director Network Management at Eurocontrol.

(*) The contributing organisations include, but are not limited to, Aerodrome Operators, Air Navigation Service Providers, Aeronautical Information Service Providers, Aircraft Operators, Aircraft Manufacturers, Professional Associations, the European Commercial Aviation Safety Team (ECAST), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and National Aviation Authorities.

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