EUROCONTROL Safety Alerts/Introduction
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Wouldn’t you like to know if the next hurricane is going to hit your place? Well, someone else probably knows that already. After all, we are always hearing after an accident happens, “we knew about this or that problem, the solutions have been known for ages - how come they didn’t know?”
Advising each others of “approaching” threats and sharing solutions is exactly what EUROCONTROL Safety Alert Service is about. Our vision is to establish:
- A vibrant network that delivers urgent safety information, to everyone concerned from everyone who knows, via a EUROCONTROL value-added mechanism.
A vast network of aviation professionals from all parts of the world can trigger the process with things they discover in their daily work. EUROCONTROL quickly processes these inputs, investigating the relevant standards, validating with experts in different fields and aggregating the results with already known experiences; then it sends the information back to the network in the form of a Safety Alert.
Let me give you some examples:
- An airline Safety Officer expressed concern about the increasing number of occasions of visual misidentifications due to similar aircraft appearances. For example, Star Alliance is a grouping of 17 airlines which sometimes operate in the Alliance livery and sometimes in their own: an instruction such as “follow the Lufthansa” could be confusing if the aircraft was in the Star Alliance livery. EUROCONTROL quickly examined the issue and relevant reports and alerted the subscribers. In the issued alert we reminded ATC to take particular care when describing aircraft in local traffic information, particularly as regards the use of conditional clearances.
- On another occasion we became aware that there had been a number of instances of incorrect pilot response to TCAS Resolution Advisories (RAs) - apparently due to misinterpretation of Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS) RA aural annunciations and RA displays. The alert we issued reminded crews of the correct interpretation of the following RAs: “Adjust Vertical Speed, Adjust”, “Monitor Vertical Speed”, “Maintain Vertical Speed, Maintain” and “Maintain Vertical Speed, Crossing, Maintain”.
- Sometimes we issue a Safety Alert containing a request for advice or support - like the one we issued in 2006 concerning the procedures for guarding 121.5MHz. The alert was based on a request received from a European Air Navigation Service Provider and a large number of responses were received from airlines and ATC units showing the differences in local policies and SOPs.
All issued alerts are available through the Safety Alert portal.
We are all passengers at one time or another - have a safe flight!