Travelling safely

Safety is the absolute top priority for skeyes. It is constantly being analysed and improved. It forms the core of the corporate culture. Promoted on a daily basis, safety is the ultimate objective of everything that skeyes employees do.

1. No category a incidents

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category B incidents

Evolution of the number of category A (severe) and B (major) incidents

For the second time in the company’s history, skeyes recorded no category A incidents, the most severe. Although not matching the absolute record set in 2016, when no category A or B incidents occurred, safety performance in 2019 remains exceptional and reflects the ongoing efforts of the air traffic controllers, Safety Management Unit staff, technicians and all skeyes staff.

accident 5.56

category A and B incidents per million movements

accident 0

category A incidents per million movements

The severity of incidents is evaluated by independent experts on a scale from A (severe) to E (no impact on safety). The severity of an incident is determined by the horizontal and vertical separations between the aircraft and by the level of control over the situation.

2. A pervasive safety culture

Just Culture

‘Just Culture’ is a key element for skeyes. It offers a trusting environment in which operating personnel can work honestly and transparently. Using reports and investigations into safety-related events, Just Culture places the emphasis on the exchange of crucial information to ensure continuous improvement of air navigation safety, as well as the non-punitive handling of unintentional human errors.

After the FABEC conference hosted by skeyes in December 2018, the principles of Just Culture gained further visibility and inspired a greater part of the analyses and discussions during the refresher courses taken by air traffic controllers on a regular basis. In 2019, skeyes created a Just Culture Advisory Board whose mandate was established and started work in 2020.
The application of Just Culture is based on 24 criteria. skeyes was able to improve its score for 4 of them in 2019, mainly in the area of training.

accident 1,589

incident reports in 2019

All incidents, no matter how minor or insignificant, are reported. The skeyes air traffic controllers reported a total of 1,589 incidents in 2019. All the reports are extensively analysed by skeyes safety experts to maintain the high level of safety and ensure continuous improvement. In addition, systematic reporting of incidents provides a more accurate overview of the proactive and reactive actions that need to be taken.

Number of incidents reported by skeyes air traffic controllers

In ten years, the number of incident reports has increased by more than 900%. After the remarkable increase in the number of incident reports in 2016 and 2017, following the new European regulation 376/2014, introduced in November 2015, we saw a decrease in 2018. This decline has not continued into 2019, but a clear trend will only emerge after a longer period of time.
The significant increase in the number of incident reports in recent years is related to three factors:

  • the firm establishment of a safety culture as well as the continuous application and promotion of Just Culture
  • optimisation of incident reporting tools
  • European legislation from the end of 2015 which expanded the types of incidents to be reported.

3. The most frequently reported incidents

Some of the most reported incidents include intrusion by pilots into controlled airspace without prior authorisation (104 reports). This type of incident mainly involved regional airports where there is a higher volume of general aviation traffic.

Attempts to blind pilots using laser pointers constitute another type of incident frequently reported , even though, once again, such reports are down compared to previous years (79 reports in 2019 compared to 83 the previous year).

After a sharp increase in 2018, reports of drone activity in controlled airspace and in no-fly zones around airports seem to have stabilised and even decreased slightly: 28 reports in 2019 compared with 31 the previous year, which is quite reassuring given the increasing use of drones. This reduction could be explained by the droneguide application, launched in 2018, which gives precise information on flight restrictions based on the location of drone pilots.

Of the 1,589 incidents reported, investigations established that skeyes was responsible for 87 of them, of which more than 70% (61) were category E, that is to say without any impact on the level of safety.

Runway incursions are in sharp decline (-42%). This is a very positive development for safety because this type of incident can have very serious consequences, even if it remains extremely rare, as shown by certain dramatic accidents that have marked the history of aviation.

4. Proactive safety actions

changement > 50

safety assessments carried out in 2019 by skeyes

These are changes involving safety that have been reported to the Belgian Supervisory Authority for Air Navigation Services (BSA-ANS).

Whenever a technical or operational change (new system, new procedure, etc.) is planned, the modification is analysed and thoroughly examined from a safety perspective and is thoroughly examined before its implementation.

In 2019, this involved, amongst other things,

  • continuation of the DVOR/DME navigation beacon modernisation programme;
  • improvement of ATM (NewPens, RAPNET) voice and data communication and radar (Surveillance Data Distribution System – SDD) data exchange systems;
  • the ACC Single Person Sector concept, which enables a sector to be managed by a single air traffic controller in low-traffic conditions;
  • UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) with the SAFIR (Safe and Flexible Integration of Initial U-space Services in a Real Environment) and Medrona projects, intended, respectively, for various missions in the area around the port of Antwerp and the delivery of medical packages between hospitals and analysis laboratories.

securite 4

safety surveys were conducted in 2019 by skeyes

Safety surveys are internal and external audits carried out to identify the most high-risk processes and take the appropriate corrective actions.

The safety surveys conducted in 2019 included:

  • flight plan data processing systems;
  • emergency and contingency plans
  • operations at Kortrijk-Wevelgem
  • winter operations at Brussels Airport

3 investigations were also launched in 2019, the results of which are expected in 2020. These include investigations into flight information services (FIS) and NOTAMs that involved airspace users.