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ERA holds Air Safety Group meeting

ERA held its first Air Safety Group meeting of 2018 at the Park Inn Hotel & Conference Centre, Heathrow Airport on 24–25 April. The meeting had another full agenda discussing various safety issues affecting members and was attended by 25 participants.

Proceedings commenced with a welcome from the new incoming Chairman of the group, Jack Durcan of ASL Airlines Ireland, who welcomed all the attendees to the meeting.

The first agenda item was a presentation from Ian Dugmore, Chief Executive of CHIRP (Confidential Human Factors Incident reporting Programme). CHIRP, founded in 1982, serves both the aviation and maritime communities as an independent voluntary reporting tool. CHIRP is made up of trustees that includes heads of the AAIB (Air Accident Investigation Branch), the Maritime Accident Investigation Branch, representatives from the CAA, Maritime and Coastguard agencies. Under these trustees are four advisory boards covering air transport, cabin crew, general aviation and maritime who meet quarterly to assess the submitted reports. Ian stressed that feedback was critical in ensuring the productivity and usefulness of CHIRP be maintained.

The group then welcomed back Dai Whittingham, Chief Executive of the UK FSC (Flight Safety Committee), who has presented at past Air Safety Group meetings. Dai talked about the current ‘Laser Bill’ passing through UK Parliament that had its second reading on 20 April. The bill will provide authorities with the power to both impose a large fine and/or custodial sentence on any perpetrator caught pointing/shining a laser beam towards an aircraft, whether in the air or on the ground, plus ATC towers. As well as lasers, the UK FSC has a list of ‘hot topics’ which it is pursuing:

  • Drone
  • Pushback incidents
  • Fumes
  • Landing gear events
  • Runway excursions
  • Pilot incapacitation
  • Residual pressurisation
  • Windshear

Finally, pilot support remains an important subject for the UK FSC with ongoing discussions on the role of peer support and how such a role is accomplished on both large and small organisations

External presenter IPS (Integrated Paramount Services) Limited attended and provided a presentation on their counter-drone system, developed with METIS, called SKYPERION. This system utilises multiple frequency detection and remote sensors linked to a base station in order to locate, monitor and track the flight of a UAV. This system will undergo trial at Southend Airport, UK, in early May 2018 where ERA will have representation in an observatory capacity.

Chris Mason, ERA Manager Policy and Technical provided details of incidents and accidents that had involved regional operators and/or aircraft since the last meeting. This included some interesting photographs highlighting what had gone wrong.

Jack Durcan, Chair of the Air Safety Group, provided a presentation with an overview of the drug and alcohol policy that is in place at ASL Airlines Ireland. Jack explained how in modern aviation it now appears more acceptable to talk about mental health as it has better acknowledgement in the industry. Jack also discussed cabin issues and how there can be potential legal conflict between personal data and Regulation (EU)376 following a cabin safety event whereby names etc., are released as part of an investigation.

Chris Mason, ERA discussed with the group the latest EASA SIBs (Safety Information Bulletins) and NPAs (Notice of Proposed Amendments) which have an impact on safety. This was then followed by a brief overview of a meeting that was held between ERA and senior EASA representative in Cologne in February, which discussed the safety concerns from a regional operator perspective.

For the final presentation of the meeting, the group welcomed Angeles Pozo, Assistant Director: Airport, Passenger, Security & Cargo with IATA-Europe. Angeles commenced her presentation by providing an overview of current security updates including, Insider Threat and Background Checks, One Stop Security Agreements, EU PNR Directive, Cyber Security and the EU Aviation Security Action Plan.

Angeles talked in detail about the Integrated Risk Assessment program, overseen by the European Commission’s DG-HOME sector. From a positive point, the aviation industry can now for the first time participate in this exercise, which has two components:

  • Vulnerabilities identified in third country airports (inbound flights) –
    • 14 countries have been targeted for capacity building,
    • Airlines were reluctant to share information due potential consequences with the third country. Therefore, a potential workshop with DG HOME and the airlines may need arranging.
  • Risk Assessments from airlines in Conflict Zones –
    • Work will focus on the criteria used in EASA CZIB bulletins (e.g 'FL' vs. 'ft AGL'),
    • Dividing FIRs, or specifying airways within the Risk Assessment,
    • DG HOME Risk Assessments, along with existing NOTAMs issued by other countries (DE, UK, FR, FAA, local authorities),
    • The need for EASA to only intervene when the risk is high.

Finally, a timeline was provided on the forthcoming EU PNR Directive Implementation, which has a deadline of 25 May 2018. Currently, three countries have full transposition and notification, namely Germany, Belgium and Hungary. Bulgaria and Lithuania already have transposition in their national regulations, but are yet to confirm their notification to the European Commission. The remaining 24 countries are pending notifying the European Commission on full transposition.

For the final ‘closed session’, the Safety Information Discussion part of the meeting was the opportunity for members to share their experiences of incidents that had an impact on their safety, whilst observing Chatham House Rules.

The next meeting of the ERA Air Safety Group will be on 19-20 September and hosted by ATR Aircraft in Toulouse.

Full details of the meeting, including the minutes and presentations are available to view on the ERA website here.

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