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European ATM leaders start implementing landmark safety plan

European Air Traffic Management leaders started implementing the…

European Air Traffic Management leaders started implementing the Strategic Safety Action Plan (SSAP), the first phase in a long-term effort to enhance ATM safety in a region stretching from Ireland to Azerbaijan and from Italy to Iceland.

The SSAP is a call to action for all of us. For the first time, it brings together the various components of ATM safety, including human resources, training, equipment and procedures, and looks systematically at safety regulation and safety management with a view to raising standards, said Mr. Victor M. Aguado, Director General of Eurocontrol.

This initial phase, due for completion in two years, will focus on the priorities identified by the High Level European Action Group for ATM Safety, known as AGAS. Implementation of the SSAP encompasses a wide and varied number of tasks focusing on human resources and safety training, incident reporting, the use of airborne and ground-based warning systems, regulatory enforcement and research and development.

Implementation in the 41 Member States of the European Civil Aviation Conference will be coordinated and progress tracked by Eurocontrol. Aside from Eurocontrol, the work will involve air navigation service providers (responsible for air traffic control services across the European region), aircraft and aerodrome operators, state regulators, international organisations, and aviation associations. (Please see Annex for details of stakeholder responsibilities.) Preliminary implementation work is already underway. The target date for completion is January 31, 2006. Eurocontrol will publish regular status reports.

Flying is one of the safest means of transport. Yet, as air traffic is expected to grow substantially during the years to come, ATM safety must be taken on to a new, higher level to avoid an increase in the number of accidents. The accidents and loss of human life at Linate airport in Italy, 08 October 2001 and over Ueberlingen in Germany on 01 July 2002 are tragic reminders of the need to move forward with this pan-European programme.

We must increase our efforts to enhance ATM safety so as to help maintain public confidence. Implementing the SSAP provides a unique opportunity to do so,“ Mr. Aguado said.

Theodore Koumelis
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