Reflecting on 10 years of EVAIR’s contribution to air safety
In the aftermath of the Linate Airport runway accident in 2001 and the Überlingen mid-air collision in 2002, EUROCONTROL set up AGAS (the High Level Action Group) which identified improvement of the incident reporting and data sharing system as one of the main ways of ensuring a proactive approach to safety.
The Safety Data Reporting and Data Flow Task Force (SAFREP) was established to address, as a matter of priority, the key areas of safety data reporting, legal, managerial, and organisation constraints, and safety data flow for European ATM, and to propose solutions to any constraints that SAFREP might identify. In this regard, putting in place voluntary reporting flows was proposed as potentially an excellent complementary fast-track mechanism to mandatory flows of reporting. The EVAIR project started with the full support of EUROCONTROL’s management and airlines’ associations, especially of IATA, but also IACA, ELFAA and AEA, among others. It was in this context that EVAIR (EUROCONTROL Voluntary ATM Incident Reporting) was born on 26 October 2006. EVAIR is the first voluntary ATM incident data collection scheme organised at a pan-European level. Within the EVAIR mechanism, ATM incident reports and feedback on them are provided on a daily or monthly basis depending on the agreement with data providers. The aim is to learn from low-level incidents and thus help to prevent accidents and serious incidents.
EVAIR’s outputs include biannual EVAIR Safety Bulletins, data support for regional events and specific ANSPs safety forums and customised analyses on issues such as impact of drones on ATM safety, and security issues connected to ATM (civil-military coordination, military interceptions, laser interference, loss of communication etc.). EVAIR also contributes to ICAO and IATA reports, among others. Since the establishment of the EVAIR mechanism, the goal has been to make the best use of ATM safety data, fully respecting confidentiality principles agreed with our safety data providers.
On the occasion of EVAIR’s tenth anniversary, we look back into what the Agency has achieved as a result of the scheme:
- EVAIR started with 10 to12 airlines during the trial period, and now we receive ATM safety reports from 130 to 160 different Air Operators yearly. They come from the whole world, but all of them fly regularly through European airspace. All European ANSPs plus those who are bordering ECAC airspace cooperate with EVAIR and participate either by providing preliminary reports or delivering feedback on occurrences reported by the airlines’ Safety Managers.
- A total of 22,300 airline occurrence reports were collected, plus 22,200 reports from ANSPs. ANSP reports encompass feedback, Call Sign Similarity and specific ANSP reports without the involvement of the air operators.
- All reports have been analysed and uploaded in the database by the EVAIR analysts who are ATM experts, mainly air traffic controllers seconded from EUROCONTROL Member States. Over the decade, almost 30 of them have worked on EVAIR activities and have returned to their home organisation with lessons learnt. In addition to air traffic controllers, experienced pilots and engineers are also involved in the process of incident analyses for specific types of occurrences like TCAS RAs.
Being proactive in safety related matters is one of EVAIR’s core undertakings. Dragica Stankovic, EVAIR’s Function manager, explains why: “Sometimes, even spotting deleted lines on the taxiway or runway and reporting it without having the incident prevents the occurrences to happen. In one instance, pilots reported deleted lines on the ground, and EVAIR transferred the message to the responsible airport resulting in the airport repainting those lines immediately; but this was not the end of the story. The affected airport additionally improved its own safety procedures by improving regular surface inspection procedures. With this prompt action, the problem has been solved for the long-term and without serious incident or accident. At the same time quick feedback and prompt action motivates pilots and air traffic controllers to continue reporting.”