With runway excursions being the most frequent accident type in aviation, organisations from across the world have collaborated on the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Excursions (GAPPRE). This post provides more information on this plan and describes some of the ways we can reduce this important safety risk.
The runway excursion challenge
Runway excursions are amongst the most serious risks in aviation. EASA’s own Annual Safety Review placed runway excursions as one of the top two key-risk areas for large commercial aeroplane operations – the top one being aircraft upset. In addition, an IATA study of incident and accident data during the development of the GAPPRE found that between 2005 and the first half of 2019, there were 283 accidents in IATA’s global accident database that involved a runway excursion. This equated to 23% of all accidents.
From a financial perspective, runway excursions have also been identified as one of the most economically significant safety events. Safe-runway GmbH, a Switzerland-based consultancy, estimated that the direct cost of runway excursion events globally was more than US$4 billion in 2019.
The importance of a collaborative approach
Managing runway excursion risk is one of the best examples of how the different domains in the aviation system cannot solve a problem by themselves. Effective management of runway excursion risks involves a system of tightly coupled factors that relies on a joint and coordinated effort.
Runway excursion prevention is complex because the effect of the risk and resilience factors is highly cumulative – Runway condition maintenance and reporting, aircraft performance and operations, collaborative approach path management and adherence to robust policies for safe descent and approach planning, stabilised approach, safe landing and go-around are some examples of factors that contribute to runway excursions. Solving these challenges can only be done together, in a coordinated way.
How GAPRRE was developed
The GAPPRE was developed over a period of two years by an international team of more than 100 aviation professionals from over 40 organisations, from which working groups were formed. The working groups were led by representatives from IATA, CANSO, the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority, Gulfstream, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and the Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR). The work was coordinated by Flight Safety Foundation and EUROCONTROL. The industry came together, as a dedicated working group, to discuss and agree upon the most important actions to address runway excursion risk. GAPPRE is truly a “from industry for industry” initiative.
The recommendations in GAPPRE are consensus-based and address actions beyond regulatory compliance. The list of recommendations represents industry consensus on best practices and interventions, going beyond simple regulatory compliance. GAPPRE is based on a rarely seen consensus by the global aviation industry.
Major aircraft manufacturers agreed on specific common technology; airlines with diverse business models agreed on best practices, and EASA and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aligned with the industry on regulatory recommendations.
Implementation of GAPPRE
The recommendations within GAPPRE itself are mainly generic, and it will be for the responsible organisations to decide specific details, after taking local conditions and specific context into account. Addressing both the risk and the resilience factors was a guiding principle of the working group, which reviewed accident and incident data, single runway excursion event scenarios and best practices, and suggestions on risk and resilience management.
GAPPRE will be published in two volumes. Volume I will contain the agreed recommendations and is scheduled to be published on 12 January 2021. Volume II will be published in February 2021 and will provide explanatory and guidance material, and related best practices for implementing the recommendations.
At the European Level, the most important actions will be transposed into the European Plan for Aviation Safety (EPAS). This community site will support the coordination on actions and more information will be provided as the work develops. At an organisational level, this will assist in the implementation of information coming from Volume II of the document.
Runway excursion is also the theme for the Annual Safety Forum, which will be held on 11 February 2021, and will encompass the launch conference for GAPPRE. Be sure to follow that event if you want more information.