Runway Safety is a significant challenge and a top priority for Airport operations. Safety on runways is inevitably of great importance to Aerodrome operators whose intention is to avoid or mitigate all foreseeable risks of accidents occurring from runway Incursion, Excursion, Confusion and FOD. The issues of runway incursion, excursion, confusion, FOD and Wildlife management have generated a great and serious concerns related to runway safety. Over the past year, these concerns have been addressed in conjunction with ICAO, ACI, FAA and other aviation experts through the production of new best practice materials/documents, to assist the airport operators to achieve a maximum result on runway safety when implemented.
Safety Concerns in the Aviation Industry
Runway Incursions, Excursions and Confusion – Runway Incursions, Excursions and Confusion present some of the greatest problems in Aviation industry. A greater number of fatal accidents had occurred around the world had been attributed to these issues, it is an event that happens at an Aerodrome due to an incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle, or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and takeoff of aircraft. Runway Incursions are a multifaceted problem which requires the responsibility of the entire community and everyone to be involved in solving this problem. The three major incursions amongst others include-;
- Operational Errors- This is an action of an Air Traffic Controller that results in
(a) Less than the required minimum separation between two or more aircraft or between an aircraft and obstacles. These include vehicles, equipment, or personnel on the runway/airside.
(b) An aircraft landing or departing on a runway closed to aircraft
- Pilot Deviations – This is an action of the pilot that violates any Federal Aviation Regulation, for instance, a pilot fails to obey Air Traffic Control (ATC) instructions to not to cross an active runway when following the authorized route to an airport gate and
- Vehicles/Pedestrian Deviation- This includes pedestrians, vehicles or other objects interfering with aircraft operations by entering or moving on the runway movement area without authorization from the ATC.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria Position Reducing these Incursions as well as the Promotion Runway Safety Programmes.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has made a Runway Safety programme its top priority to reduce the risk and severity of Runway Incursions through the introduction of several measures.
- Setting up of a Runway Safety Action Team (RSAT) the purpose of this is to discuss all surface movement issues and concerns at a particular airport and formulate a Runway Safety Action Plan (RSAP) to address those concerns. This team is made up of personnel from the ATC, NCAA, Airport Operator, and the stakeholders. This is an International best practice that the Federal Airports Authority has adopted.
- Local Runway Safety Team (LRST) – this team advises the airport management and operations staff on-;
- Prevailing local conditions on the runway, taxiway and adjacent areas.
- Issues of concern and importance, and
- Mitigating measures and solutions to identified issues.
- The management of FAAN is constantly improving the level of education and awareness on Runway Safety for those who operate on the airport surface.
- It has intensified Airside Driver’s training and issuing certificates to all the trained Airside Drivers personnel as well as the enforcement on the renewal of the expired licenses.
- The introduction of inner/outer perimeter fence of the entire airside
- Illumination of the inner perimeter fence
- Constant patrol and monitoring of the perimeter fence by the organization’s trained security personnel and proper manning of all the access gates to ward off all unauthorized entry.
- Except routine maintenance works, all other works which include alterations, construction works etc on the airside must produce a work safety plan which will be approved by NCAA as stipulated in NCAR. Part 12 and ICAO DOC. 19774
- The introduction of the Airport Collaborative Decision Making (ACDM) through this representatives from different aviation agencies including the stakeholders are gathered to formulate policies that will bring about the minimization of runway incursions that airport.
On the Implementation of Safety Management System
The management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria is undergoing a fully implementation of a Safety Management System in the organization which is the key to the implementation of a Runway Safety Programme. It has therefore commenced an intensive training of staff on
- a) Airside rules and procedures
- b) Aerodrome signage, markings, and lightings etc and
- c) Establishment of its safety policies, Responsibilities and Accountabilities.
Wildlife and Bird strike Management
Wildlife/Bird strike have been one of the major problems in Runway Safety why because of the increasing populations of many bird species, hazardous to Aviation, adaptation of birds to urban settings and increased liability issues with bird strike.
Where these strikes are occur
- 59% below 100feet (30m)
- 92% below 3000 feet (900m)
- Less than 2% above 10,000 feet (3000m)
- Highest strikes 32,200 feet (10,000m)
Measures FAAN has put in Place to mitigate the Wildlife issue
- The Authority has entered into agreement with the Local Government Areas within the 10km radius on waste management because wildlife is attracted to Aerodromes because they provide food, water, cover and security.
- Garbage disposal dump management within the airport
- Introduction of new technologies, training of its competent personnel and intensification of patrols
- Describe existing wildlife hazards to air carrier operators
- Revision of strikes records
- Identification of wildlife attractants on and off airport and
- Grass management, tree cutting, agric. Operations, ponds and water.
The Authority has also increased it’s inspection level of the airside for identification and removal of FOD’s since this constitutes a great danger on the airside.
Markings and Signage
It has completed the markings on all the runways as well as the aprons for easy identification also the installation of signage includes all lightings.
It has just concluded a massive training of its airside operations personnel on SMS, Markings, Signage etc for certification. It has also signed an agreement with ACI world on training of its personnel and majority of its staff had been trained on Annex 14 and Human Factors by ACI. All these are in readiness for the upcoming certification of the nation’s airports.
Maintenance schedule had been drawn on maintenance of both the runways, aprons including airfield lighting, despite its financial constraints it has been able to keep the aerodromes working.
FAAN has set up a certification team which had taken the inspection of some International airports for certification to appraise the requirements for certification as demanded by NCAA. Certification of an aerodrome is demonstration that an organization has implemented it quality management system appropriately this includes a third party Audit. Quality Management System ensures safety, security, efficiency and services thereby stimulating air traffic and increase in financial profit.
Why certifying the aerodromes?
- To achieve and maintain a higher standard level of safety
- To promote standardization and consistency of procedures and operations and
- To ensure safety and security etc.
These achievements enumerated could not have been achieved without the top management support which is headed by a highly dedicated, efficient and result oriented managing director/chief executive of the organization Engr. Saleh Dunoma who has taken the safety of the entire airports as his priority.
As it is popularly said, that safety is everybody’s responsibility therefore, as the organization launches its corporate safety policy, we must join hands together to achieve the high level of safety performance in the airports.
A successful business needs to be operated safely, not only to meet legal requirements and social responsibilities but also to be profitable. Accidents and incidents threaten all these. A safety management system can help an organization to identify, classify, and manage the underlying and immediate risks to its business.
I therefore urge the entire Aviation industry to consider adopting a safety management system to manage safety in their various organizations just like FAAN so as to reap the inevitable concomitant of its benefits.