Dutch aviation sector presents safety roadmap for Schiphol hub

Dutch aviation stakeholders have put the final touches to a safety roadmap for Schiphol airport that outlines all the measures that have been taken by the sector since last year in response to the recommendations issued by the nation’s safety regulator.

The Integral Safety Management System (ISMS) is a collaborative initiative within which Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL), airlines, refuelling services, ground handlers and Schiphol will work closely together in order to ensure optimal safety.

The Roadmap Safety Improvement Schiphol which has been published online contains 30 safety measures that have either been implemented, or are being studied, or are currently in the process of being implemented.

The sector specifically focused on further reducing runway incursions, minimising risks involved in runway combination changes and runway crossings, optimisation of collaboration between the various sector parties and optimal arrangement of infrastructure and services within this infrastructure. The roadmap will be updated twice a year.

Birgit Otto, chair of the safety board of the sector-wide Integral Safety Management System and chief operating officer of Royal Schiphol Group said: “Aviation is the safest form of transport. Nevertheless, the sector strives for permanent improvement of safety. Our sector is united in our efforts and safety is paramount to every single person and organisation at Schiphol. The Roadmap ‘Safety Improvement Schiphol’ gives everyone clear insight into the measures we are taking and how they answer the recommendations made by the Dutch Safety Board.”

The extensive range of safety measures included in the roadmap includes the construction of an additional taxiway over the A4 motorway. As a result aircraft taxiing now have access to a separate taxiway in both directions. This greatly reduces the complexity of ground operations and therefore significantly boosts safety.

Investigations are also underway to see if the staff directing the ground vehicles can work from the same tower control room as the ground controllers directing taxiing aircraft. This could improve coordination and minimises the risk of misunderstandings.

The platform at the Zwanenburgrunway will be expanded to enable parking of a greater number of aircraft, reducing complexity of gate planners and preventing runway crossings. Investigation is also being conducted clarifying how ground handlers can increasingly share ground vehicles and materials in order to ensure platforms remain clear and movement of materials is reduced. Projects such as digitisation of flight information strips in the control towers are also included in the roadmap.

One of the Dutch Safety Board’s recommendations was to jointly develop an integral system for safety management. In response to this recommendation, the ISMS was created in order to improve collaboration between all parties involved in aviation safety. The ISMS is an addition to existing safety management systems of the sector parties involved. The ISMS focusses on risks with regards to interaction between those parties, the so called interface risks.

Through the ISMS these interface risks can now be investigated collaboratively and safety analysis are being conducted proactively. Sharing information results in better insights, improvements and conclusions. The partners said this new and intensive collaboration method should significantly boost the ability of all parties to analyse, evaluate and resolve any safety issues that may arise.