Home » ASN News
Portugal starts study on near miss incidents involving drones
20 June 2017

Portugal starts study on near miss incidents involving drones

The Portuguese Office for the Prevention and Investigation of Aircraft Accidents and Rail Accidents (GPIAAF) announced that they will initiate a study relating to the operation of drones in the country’s airspace.

Reason for the study is the amount of near miss incidents between drones and aircraft in the country. The study will addres the following aspects:

  1. Characterization of the history of incidents in Portugal involving the proximity of drones to manned aircraft;
  2.  Characterization of drones and applicable legislation;
  3. Operational practices in the air and on land when sighting a drone in a restricted area;
  4. Dissemination and training programs for drone users;
  5. Perception of key stakeholders as to the adequacy and effectiveness of legislation and regulation;
  6. Review of international practices and experiences in this area;
  7. Review of recommendations issued by research organizations;
  8. Possible preparation of recommendations for prevention of this type of occurrences.

More information:

EASA publishes Annual Safety Review of 2016

EASA published their ‘Annual Safety Review 2017’, covering the year 2016.

The only fatal accident in Commercial Air Transport aeroplane airline operations in 2016 that involved an EASA Member State operator was the accident of a Canadair CRJ-200 performing a cargo flight on 8 January 2016. EASA reports a lower number of non-fatal accidents involving Member State operators in 2016 than the 10-year average, with 16 accidents compared to the average of 23.1 over the previous 10 years. At the same time, there was a 36% increase in the number of serious incidents over the same period resulting in a total of 106 serious incidents compared with the average of 78.2. In terms of fatalities, the single fatal accident resulted in 2 fatalities (the flight crew, the only occupants of the aeroplane), which is much lower than the 10 year average.
There was also a slight decrease in serious injuries with 9 serious injuries compared with 10 over the previous 10 years.

More information:


ASN releases drone near-miss database

The Aviation Safety Network today released the ASN Drone Database, containing over 2800 reports of unmanned aircraft (UAS) sightings from pilots and airprox occurrences involving UAS and aircraft. The types of UAS covered include consumer and professional helicopter type drones, larger military fixed wing (reconnaissance) drones, and model aircraft.

Most of the data has been sourced from official government agencies, like the U.S. FAA, Transport Canada, and the UK Airprox Board. The data has been structured and enriched so it can be easily filtered by among others aircraft type involved, altitude, estimated separation distance.

The database includes eight cases of suspected and confirmed UAS collisions with aircraft and 73 cases in which an evasive manoeuvre had to be carried out by a pilot to avoid colliding with a drone.

The database is available for download as .CSV (spreadsheet) and .PDF (document) files.

MH370 most likely in new search area says new ocean drift analysis

A new report released by the Australian CSIRO further confirms the most likely location of the missing flight MH370 is in the new search area identified by a review conducted in November 2016.

Even though the active underwater search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has stopped, researchers continue to pinpoint the most likely area where the Boeing 777 went down. The new report published by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) features data and analysis from ocean testing of an actual Boeing 777 flaperon.

This added an extra level of assurance to the findings from earlier drift modelling research, which was conducted using replicas of the a flaperon found on La Reunion Island.

An actual B777 flaperon was sourced and cut down to match photographs of MH370’s flaperon, and then testing was done in the waters near Hobart.

Knowledge of  how the flaperon, and the other parts of MH370 that have been found, respond to wind and waves were combined with the currents of the Indian Ocean.

CSIRO combined both in a model to simulate the drift across the ocean, to be able to compare the results with observations of where debris was and wasn’t found, in order to deduce the location of the aircraft.

The new report’s findings support the conclusions of the first report. It indicates that the most likely location of MH370 is in the new search area identified and recommended by the First Principles Review report, and most likely at the southern end of that, near 35 degrees South.

“We cannot be absolutely certain, but that is where all the evidence we have points us, and this new work leaves us more confident in our findings,” CSIRO states.

More information:

Dutch Safety Board publishes findings of Amsterdam-Schiphol Airport safety investigation

In recent decades, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has expanded to become one of Europe’s main civil aviation hubs. The airport is sandwiched between densely populated urban areas, so trade-offs must continually be made between growth and the consequences thereof for the surrounding area. Safety needs to have a prominent place in these trade-offs, as the effects and impacts of civil aviation accidents can be substantial.
Following a series of incidents (some of which occurred more than once), the Dutch Safety Board carried out an investigation to identify any vulnerabilities in the safety system around Schiphol. The investigation found no evidence to suggest that safety at Schiphol is inadequate. However, the investigation did reveal a number of safety risks that need to be tackled integrally and systematically in order to guarantee safety both now and in the future.


1. Both Amsterdam Airport Schiphol’s physical infrastructure, its formal usage framework and its everyday operations are highly complex, giving rise to safety risks.
a. The complexity involved in handling air traffic at Schiphol is largely due to historical and recent choices regarding the airport’s design, layout and operation.
b. Schiphol’s plan and layout are complex in nature. The numerous taxiways, runway exits and entries, the relative (sometimes converging) runway orientations, maintenance hangar locations and the location of the S-platform (cargo) introduce risks of incidents and accidents.
c. The complexity in handling air traffic stems from:
— the implemented concept of operations involving a ‘wave system’, featuring peaks in traffic levels;
— the terms of operation relating to noise annoyance mitigation; noise preferential flight operations result in many runway configuration changes;
— the way parties organise their processes.
d. The increase in air traffic adds to the complexity. Since 2014, the increase in air traffic has gone hand in hand with an increase in the number of incidents.
e. Schiphol airport is approaching the limits of its ability to handle air traffic safely within the current operational concept.

2. In decision-making processes about Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, safety is taken into account as a precondition. The impact on safety of various noise abatement measures is factored into the assessment. The way in which safety (as a precondition) is implemented, has the following shortcomings:
a. Decisions are tested against the ATC standard, in which a maximum acceptable accident risk per flight is defined for the air traffic control system. This safety standard covers only a small part of the operational safety risks at and around Schiphol.
b. Prior to the introduction of the new standards and enforcement system, no integral analysis took place of the effects on safety. The safety effects of frequent runway configuration changes have not been examined.
c. The external safety policy is of marginal significance to the safety of local residents.
The standard for local risk provides scant guidance to the sector parties. There are no clear standards for group risk.

3. The cooperation in the field of safety between the main sector parties at Schiphol has a number of shortcomings.
a. At strategic level, there are no safety consultations with common agendas and common safety goals.
b. Cooperation within the Schiphol Safety Platform (Veiligheidsplatform Schiphol) is too noncommittal, primarily reactive, and limited to the operational level.
c. The Schiphol Safety Platform lacks the authority to enforce safety measures at the parties involved.

4. The State assumes responsibility for the integral safety of air traffic at and around Schiphol in a way that is too limited.
a. In the system that is to guarantee air traffic safety at and around Schiphol, the Ministry for Infrastructure and the Environment fulfils several roles that are at odds with each other.
b. the Ministry for Infrastructure and the Environment has no idea about the total level of safety of air traffic at and around Schiphol and the effect of the total amount of changes on that safety level. A testable criterion for integral air traffic safety is lacking. It is unclear how it can be ascertained that safety on the whole is improving.
c. Safety is not given enough priority in the decision-making with regard to the development of Schiphol airport.
d. The Ministry for Infrastructure and the Environment leaves the role of safety watchdog in the Schiphol Community Council (Omgevingsraad Schiphol) to Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (Luchtverkeersleiding Nederland).
e. Subject-knowledge and capacity of the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (Inspectie Leefomgeving en Transport) are inadequate for maintaining effective oversight of air traffic safety at and around Schiphol. The Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate has only a limited idea about the safety effects of successive changes to the ATM system.
f. The Aviation Occurrence Analysis Bureau (Analysebureau Luchtvaartvoorvallen) fails in its functions as feedback mechanism for policy and oversight and as an instrument for proactive risks identification.

More information:

UAE recommends operators to exercise oversight of fuel suppliers after fueling incidents

The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) recommends operators to exercise oversight of aircraft fuel suppliers following several fueling incidents.

On 16 February 2016 an Airbus was scheduled to operate a passenger flight from the United Arab Emirates, to United States. The aircraft was parked at the parking stand and the fueling commenced at 01:10 LT by the fueling supplier. Fueling was in progress and 163,057 liters of fuel had already been pumped to the aircraft when, at 02:12 LT, the fueling operator observed dark black smoke emanating from the vehicles’ engine compartment. The operator immediately released the ‘deadman’ control and started to attend to the fire using a fire extinguisher. Another fueling operator who was awaiting an aircraft arrival on the adjacent stand, noticed the fire and informed his supervisor, who in turn informed the fire service, the airport authorities and the Operator. The second fueling operator then attended to the fire with his vehicle’s fire extinguisher. The Emergency Hydrant Shutdown Switch (ESD), which is positioned 80 meters from the incident site, was activated at 0218 LT. Six fire extinguishers were emptied before the airport rescue and firefighting team arrived and extinguished the fire. No injuries were reported and fire damage was limited to the hydrant fueling vehicle. The aircraft was subsequently released to service and fueled with the remaining 81,610 liters by another fueling vehicle.

This incident was one of twelve fueling incidents that have occurred in the United Arab Emirates. Of these 12 events, nine involved fuel leaks during the fueling process. The fuel leaks were caused by aircraft fuel system defects, or fuel system handling issues.

The GCAA’s Air Accident Investigation Sector (AAIS) is concerned with the quality of safety oversight of fuel agents as third party service suppliers to operators in the United Arab Emirates.
The current regulation excludes certain third party service suppliers from the requirement to establish and implement an approved safety management system. Furthermore, CAR Part X Safety Management System, omits the requirement for air operators to describe their interaction with third party service suppliers. A solid interaction with third party service suppliers would reduce the likelihood that defenses in the operator’s safety management system are weakened by third party staff, or unsuitable equipment standards.
This situation requires from the air operator not only a good understanding of relevant operational risks, but also the initiative to manage the risks sufficiently, while exceeding current regulatory requirements.

In light of the findings, the Air Accident Investigation Sector recommends that the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the United Arab Emirates:

  1. Establish a requirement in CAR Part X- Safety Management System, that the operator apply their safety management system to fuel suppliers. The extent of application of the operator’s SMS to fuel suppliers should be documented in the contract agreed between the operator and the fuel supplier.
  2. Establish a requirement for operators to exercise oversight of aircraft fuel suppliers. The extent of oversight should be documented in the contract agreed between the operator and the fuel supplier.

More information:


U.K. Parliament launches drone inquiry

The U.K. Parliament Transport Committee launched an inquiry into civilian drones, to consider how the benefits of drone technology can be maximised within a robust safety framework.

The Transport Committee notes that the increasing use of drones in the United Kingdom raises a number of regulatory and operational issues. This includes risk to other aircraft.

The Committee calls for written submissions addressing drone related issues, which include the safety and security risks posed by drones, particularly to manned aircraft;
the role of technology in enabling safe and sustainable growth in the civilian drones sector; and the current enforcement arrangements for misuse of drones in the UK

In addition to the evidence sought on drones, the Committee says it is also interested in evidence on the likely effects of the measures in the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill on the dangers posed by the use of laser pens to distract the pilots of aircraft.  Written submissions must be sent by Friday 26 May 2017.

More information:


NBAA releases 2017 top safety focus areas

The U.S. National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) released its annual list of Top Safety Focus Areas, topics identified by the NBAA Safety Committee as primary risk-mitigation targets for all business aircraft operators.

Each year the NBAA Safety Committee reviews safety survey results, risk-based safety data, and qualitative input from industry and regulatory partners, other NBAA committees and association members. Following this data-driven review, the committee members deliberate and develop a list of safety focus areas for the year. The committee goal is to promote and stimulate safety-focused discussion and advocacy throughout the business aviation industry, as well as to help NBAA prioritize how it should focus its safety-improvement resources.

The 2017 NBAA Top Safety Focus Areas are:

  • Loss of control inflight (LOC-I)
  • Runway excursions
  • Single-pilot accident rate
  • Procedural non-compliance
  • Ground handling collisions
  • Distractions
  • Scenario- and risk-based training and checking
  • Airspace complexities

More information:

EASA reviews effectiveness of new flight time limitations

The European Commission together with European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have set up a research study to review the effectiveness of the new flight and duty time limitations and rest requirements applicable since 18 February 2016.
The objective is to determine whether these rules provide sufficient protection from potential consequences of aircrew fatigue and, if necessary, to make recommendations for changes to the rules.

EASA states that the starting point of the FTL research study is to determine the scope of a planned data gathering campaign in which aircrews will be followed and asked to collect data on alertness and fatigue. Before this campaign can start, the envelope of operations that will be the focus of the exercise needs to be determined based on expected level of fatigue risk.
EASA pre-defined six flight duty periods that are to be investigated; two of which will be investigated in the current research study. In view of the large scope of the task encompassed by the review, it was decided to breakdown the review work into three phases – with each individual phase focusing onto two out of the six duty periods.

EASA calls for aircrew members to fill in an online survey to define this envelope of operations. Aircrew members are considerd flight and cabin crew in all type of Commercial Air Transport (CAT) operations. In addition to this group of aircrews, the survey can also be spread amongst scheduling and safety experts working for European CAT operators and subject matter experts in fatigue management working for European aviation authorities or as consultants.

This FTL review is being performed by a research consortium with the Netherlands Aerospace Centre NLR, Stockholm University, German Aerospace Centre DLR, and Jeppesen.

To prevent airprox events BFU Germany recommends all gliders to allways use a transponder

The German aircraft accident investigation board, BFU, made two safety recommendations to the German government to prevent mid-air collisions and airprox events.

The recommendations were made as a result of a study of all German mid-air collisions and airprox events in the period 2010-2015.  During this period a total of 490 events were reported to the BFU. Of those 15 were classified as accidents, 31 serious incidents and eight incidents with a total of 19 fatalities. The remaining events were less serious and did not warrant further investigation.

Number of occurrences in Germany 2010-2015

The accidents occurred during VFR flights (en route) and VFR traffic patterns as a result of the failure of the ‘See and avoid’ principle.

Following a review of all cases, the BFU issued two recommendations to the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI):

  1. BMVI should abolish the existing exemption that gliders above 5000 feet AMSL or 3500 feet AGL would not have to use their transponder.
  2. BMVI should ensure that commercial air transport flights, carried out according to instrument flight rules with aircraft larger than 5,7 t take-off mass or more than 19 seats, are only carried out in airspaces where the air traffic control is always able to provide traffic information and issue avoidance instructions to all other aircraft operating in the same airspace, as well as to enable warnings of airborne and ground-based anti-collision systems (ACAS and STCA) against imminent collisions.

Most recent serious airprox incidents involving airliners in Germany (investigations completed):

More information