Minister and aviation sector conclude agreement to further improve safety at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Cora van Nieuwenhuizen and the aviation sector have concluded an agreement to further improve safety at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The core of the ‘Schiphol Safety Improvement’ management system at the airport. The agreement also specifies the steps to be taken by the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate to improve the Civil Aviation Incident Analysis Department (ABL).

By entering into this agreement, the minister and the sector are responding to some of the recommendations of the Dutch Safety Board in its report entitled ‘Safety of Air Traffic at Schiphol’. In this report, which was published in the spring of 2017, the Dutch Safety Board critically examined safety at Schiphol and issued recommendations on its improvement.

Birgit Otto, Chair of the Safety Review Board of the sector-wide Integrated Safety Management System and COO of Royal Schiphol Group: ‘From the tankers and handling agents to airlines and air traffic control, everyone in the aviation sector recognises safety as a top priority. With this covenant and the newly developed Integrated Safety Management System, the aviation sector is implementing the recommendations of the Dutch Safety Board. The Netherlands is the first country in Europe to engage in this type of collaboration to further improve aviation safety.’

One of the Dutch Safety Board’s recommendations to the sector was to jointly develop an integrated safety management system. The improved collaboration will increase safety at and around Schiphol. The covenant with the sector lays down agreements on the development of the new system. The minister will monitor this development through measures such as annual evaluations by (international) external safety experts engaged by the sector. The first evaluation will take place in 2019.

The minister has additionally made agreements in the covenant regarding the development of a plan in which the sector will document the measures to be taken to demonstrably improve safety at Schiphol in the years ahead. This plan is currently being drawn up and will be based in part on the recommendations of the Dutch Safety Board and the integrated safety analysis previously carried out on behalf of the Ministry.

In the meantime, the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate has begun strengthening the ABL. This was also one of the Safety Board’s recommendations. The aim is to learn lessons from incidents together with the sector parties in order to improve aviation safety. This requires efforts such as increasing the usability of the ABL’s analyses. Initially, the development of the ABL will be evaluated by external experts each year.