EU Air Traffic Management Meeting Focused on Accelerating Complexity

Luc Tytgat, the European Aviation Safety Agency's director of Strategy and Safety Management, gave an update on the European Plan for Aviation Safety, a multi-year safety plan based on collaborative safety risk management and involving full consultation with all stakeholders.

"Managing Complexity in a Fast-Changing World" was the theme of the biennial EUROCONTROL CEOs' Safety Conference that took place in May in Frankfurt, Germany, with safety directors, managers, CEOS, and other corporate chiefs from 33 European air navigation service providers and the EUROCONTROL Network Manager focused on meeting European Union Performance Scheme Reference Period 3 safety key performance indicators and targets.

Professor Klaus-Dieter Scheurle opened the conference by emphasizing the importance of strong top-down safety emanating from the CEO. Increasing automation, digitization, and the introduction of artificial intelligence and drone technologies are adding more complexity to a situation that is already challenging, he said, the changes in demand, regulation, and commercial competition create additional pressures on Europe's air traffic control systems.

(The meeting took place as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) announced it will begin establishing low-altitude traffic management guidance for drones and that it will host a "Drone Enable" symposium in September 2017 in Montreal. "Today we're seeing many new proposals and innovations emerging in terms of both unmanned aircraft and operations at lower altitudes," said ICAO Air Navigation Bureau Director Stephen Creamer. "ICAO recognizes that it's the natural agency to be gathering together the best and brightest from government and industry to define how these craft can be safely integrated into 21st century airspace, and in a way that optimizes their benefits globally for the wide range of public and private sector operators now exploring their potential.")

Joe Sultana, director of the Network Manager, discussed in the Frankfurt meeting how ANSPs can maintain and improve their safety record:

  • Understanding safety performance is difficult; what data do we really need to understand safety?
  • Often "work as done" differs from "work as imagined"
  • It's hard to see things that change slowly over time; people adapt, adjust, and make trade-offs
  • Anticipating the future is getting harder; how can we look around the corner to see what is coming?

Luc Tytgat, the European Aviation Safety Agency's director of Strategy and Safety Management, gave an update on the European Plan for Aviation Safety, a multi-year safety plan based on collaborative safety risk management and involving full consultation with all stakeholders.

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