What are our priorities in the EPAS?

24 January 2022

You can learn more about the European Plan for Aviation Safety (EPAS) on this page and understand the safety priorities and actions for Air Operations at European Level. Of course the next step is to consider how this is relevant to your own organisation. 

The EPAS - Setting the safety priorities for aviation in Europe

On January 17th, 2022 the 11th edition of the European Plan for Aviation Safety (EPAS) was published on the EASA website. The EPAS sets out the strategic priorities and main risks affecting the European aviation system and defines the actions to mitigate them. At a practical level, in the global ICAO context, the EPAS is the regional aviation safety plan (RASP) for EASA Member States. It supports safety management at State level and is the main input to the EUR RASP for the ICAO EUR Region.

This edition is made up of 3 volumes over 391 pages with 183 actions covering 219 safety issues. 

EPAS 2022

The 3 Volumes of the EPAS:

It's never easy to read almost 400 pages of detailed technical material. To help you understand the EPAS and focus on the most important information, the document is split into 3 volumes. The titles below provide hyperlinks to each of the individual volumes themselves.

  • Volume I - Strategic Priorities: The priorities come from a number of sources. Firstly the Safety Risk Management (SRM) process that identifies the safety issues in Volume 3. Unsurprisingly, the priorities are shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic as well the European Green Deal and other strategic developments.
  • Volume II - Actions: The EPAS contains 5 different types of actions. Rulemaking Tasks (RMTs), Safety Promotion Tasks (SPTs), Research Actions (RES), Evaluation Tasks (EVTs) and Member State Tasks (MSTs). This volume lists all 183 actions - split into chapters for each domain to make things easier to find and relate to the different operational activities. For each action there is a detailed definition of the task itself, a link to the safety issues the action is intended to mitigate along with other information including the timeline, latest status and the action owner.
  • Volume III - Safety Issues: A new edition in 2021, this additional volume provides visibility of the safety risks and underlying safety issues impacting the European aviation system. You can find out more about the analysis that leads to the safety issues in the EASA Annual Safety Review.

What are the strategic priorities for Air Ops in Volume 1:

The main strategic priorities are detailed below and these will drive the safety promotion activities for 2022. By each title you can find the page reference in case you want to find out more:

Safe return to operations (Page 39).

The pandemic has greatly impacted the industry and this new focus area highlights the importance of managing the recovery over the coming months and beyond. On Page 41 you can find some of the top safety issue identified in the updated COVID-19 Safety Risk Portfolio - we will talk more about these later in the "Road to Recovery" item.

Improve safety by improving safety management (Page 42):

Effective safety management, including robust risk management policies and processes, are vital to our safety improvement efforts. There will be a lot of safety promotion on this topic in 2022 with a particular focus on ensuring we all have a clear understanding about the purpose of safety management as well as reporting, safety culture and human factors.

Human factors and human performance (Page 43):

Human factors is concerned with the application of what we know about human beings, their abilities, characteristics and limitations, to the design of equipment they use, environments in which they function and jobs they perform. While human performance refers to how people perform their tasks. Both are vital in our safety efforts.

Other strategic priorities identified in Volume I.

There are a number of other strategic priorities in the EPAS for Air Operations, these are:

  • Competence of personnel - Page 45
  • Integrated risk management - Page 46
  • Impact of socio-economic factors on safety - Page 50
  • Data4Safety - Page 50
  • Civil-military coordination and cooperation - Page 51
  • Oversight - Page 53" and "Standardisation - Page 53

Preventing accidents by addressing the key risk areas.

From Page 54 you can find more about the top safety risks in commercial air transport operations that are addressed in the EPAS. These are the main accident outcomes that we are trying to prevent by identifying the key risks and associated safety issues. The key risk areas for Air Ops based on the aggregated risk score are:

  • Airborne collision.
  • Runway excursion.
  • Aircraft upset in flight (Loss of control).

Other Highlights

There are many other strategic topics covered in Volume I. These include Artificial Intelligence (Page 64), Digital Licences for Aviation Pilots (dLAP - Page 79), Environment (Page 81) and Safety Performance (Page 88).