In the report Intersecting Air Traffic at Schiphol, the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) sends a number of signals to Minister Visser of Infrastructure and Water Management. These signals can contribute to improving the safety of Dutch air traffic even further. The report contains the results of an investigation that the ILT has conducted, among other things, after a number of incidents in recent years, in which aircraft came close to each other.

In the first place, the investigation shows that the procedures used by Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL) for crossing air traffic meet the global standards and the Dutch statutory safety standard. Nevertheless, the ILT noticed a number of things that could contribute to making Dutch air traffic even safer:

  • Consequences of an accident
    The ILT noticed that when determining the legal safety standard, no account was taken of the consequences of an accident for, for example, the people who live and work at and around Schiphol. This 'external safety' should be taken into account in the evaluation of the safety standard.
  • Incident standard
    There is only a safety standard for accidents and no safety standard for incidents. It is therefore more difficult for the ILT to enforce incidents.
  • No laws and regulations crossing traffic
    A third signal for improvement; there are no specific laws and regulations for intersecting air traffic, both internationally and nationally. The 'Policy Rules for Safety Standards ATC' (Air Traffic Control) are also not specifically written for this.
  • Legal safety standard
    The standard in the ATC Safety Standards Policy Rules is based on the average probability of an air traffic control related accident worldwide between 1980 and 2005. After 2005 this average probability of an accident has decreased. The current legal safety standard does not take this into account. Based on 500.000 flights per year at Schiphol, the legal safety standard allows for 20 accidents to occur every 3 years, involving air traffic control

Intersecting air traffic

Schiphol Airport has runways in different wind directions. Taking off and landing in high winds from the side of the aircraft is dangerous. This runway system allows aircraft to always take off and land against the wind. This system also has drawbacks. The runways used may intersect. There are also runway combinations where the extension of the runways crosses each other in the air. We call this intersecting air traffic, dependent runway use or converging runway use.

Reason for research

This investigation by the ILT was prompted by the report of the Dutch Safety Board (OVV) following an incident in 2018. During this incident, two aircraft came close to each other. In this report, the OVV advised the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management to have an assessment as to whether the procedures for dependent runway use of Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL) comply with the legislation and regulations. The ILT conducted the assessment on this. Subsequently, the ILT conducted additional investigations because of two comparable incidents in 2007 and 2015. And because the safety study by Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL), which shows that the procedures are safe, dates from 2015. According to the Human Environment and Transport Inspectoratet.

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