The 5th edition of the World Aviation Safety Summit, hosted by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), was a resounding success with more than 450 local and international aviation industry experts discussing the most pressing issues concerning aviation safety and proposing new strategies for the sector.
Mohammed Abdulla Ahli, Director General of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, said: “With our growing presence on the global aviation scene and the solid status as an international aviation hub, we are committed to improving safety standards across the sector.
As the sector and the industry continue to grow, as well as the number of safety factors that need to be taken into account, and that’s why the 5th edition of WASS witnessed discussions on a broad range of topics. The summit advanced local, regional and international understandings of some of the most pressing issues facing carriers today, and also provided a cutting-edge and innovative response to current challenges.” The two-day summit engaged local and international stakeholders from regulatory authorities, airline operators, airport operators, aircraft manufacturers, pilot associations, safety organisations and air traffic control service providers to highlight key strategies for the safety culture of the future.
Khaled Al Arif, Executive Director Aviation Safety and Environment at DCAA, welcomed delegates, saying: “In its fifth edition with participation increasing every year, it is clear that the industry is looking to further its knowledge and ensure a safe and successful future for air travel.”
Michael Rudolf, Head of Aviation Regulations and Safety at DCAA, discussed the Authority’s latest procedures and application process for commercial drone operators, which includes detailed background checks and pre-authorized location selection. Rudolf highlighted that DCAA is working on signing an MoU with retailers to setup a process by which drone users must register their drone before being able to physically receive the devices.
Another theme throughout the Summit’s panel talks and keynote speeches was the discrepancy between reality and perception of aviation safety. While flying remains safest means of long-distance travel, high-profile incidents and other threats have affected perceptions. WASS Chairman and prominent aviation analyst Alan Peaford highlighted a recent survey by Ascend, in which 47% of respondents felt that flight safety has either deteriorated or remained the same, despite the fact that aviation safety has improved five-fold globally over the past decade.
IATA figures identified that there were 10 fatal accidents in 2016, representing improvements to aviation safety and security across the board. The overall accident rate reduced from 1.79 per 1 million flights in 2015 to 1.61 last year.
In order to keep airfields safe, flight crews need a clear, safe and consistent operating environment that avoids confusion, said Andrew Green, Manager Aerodrome Safety & Standards, Aviation & Airports Safety Department at Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA). He said a more consistent approach is needed in terms of signs and instructions at airport runways to ensure airfield safety is kept to the highest standards.
Andrew added that Dubai International Airport is consistent in its runway environment. He also highlighted some specific reasons why other airports are reluctant to implement best practice. These reasons include a lack of a regulatory requirement, cost of implementation, more training being required and in some cases not enough experience to implement.
He emphasized that most runway incursions occur in good met conditions, with most accidents occurring at night or in poor visibility. Bhamidipati Srinivas, Head of Aviation Safety, Bangalore International Airport, commented that improved communication is necessary to reduce runway excursions. He also called for increased training for controllers and Air Navigation Service Providers as well as improved speed control and clearer information for Automatic Terminal Information Services in global airports.
David Gleave, a Chief Safety Investigator, argued that improved instructions are needed at all runways and that geometry should always be considered in order to improve safety.
According to IATA, last year some 3.8 billion travellers flew safely on 40.4 million flights. Flying is still the safest form of long distance travel. For IATA safety remains the top priority of all involved in aviation with a goal for every flight to depart and arrive without incident.