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Aerodromes & Ground Handling

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EASA Safety Airports

The EU adopted comprehensive safety rules for aerodromes which came into force in 2014.

  • EASA works with National Aviation Authorities throughout Europe to help them implement rules for aerodrome operators and their operations.
  • There are also rules for the design of, the, aerodrome infrastructure which are called certification specifications.
  • Ground handling at aerodromes has been added to EASA’s growing safety portfolio. A roadmap has been established and following a year-long fact finding exercise, EASA has defined a scope to set up EU wide rules. 

What is an aerodrome? 

An aerodrome is a defined area (including any buildings, installations and equipment), either on land or water and which is used for the arrival, departure and surface movement of aircraft. Aerodromes include small general aviation airfields, large commercial airports, heliports and military airbases. 

Why do we refer to Aerodromes instead of Airports?

An airport, in addition to the infrastructure used by the aircraft has terminal(s) and car parks which means that if read in conjunction with the definition provided above, an aerodrome is a part of an airport. The EU safety rules apply only to the infrastructure used by aircraft and thus the reason for the use of the technical term ‘aerodrome’.

Do all aerodromes fall within EASA’s scope?

Not all aerodromes fall within EASA’s scope. EU safety rules focus on aerodromes that:

  • are open to the public use
  • serve commercial air transport
  • have a paved instrument runway of 800 metres or more ; or
  • exclusively serve helicopters using instrument approach procedures / departure procedures for landing and take-off

Have a look at the list of aerodromes falling under EASA’s scope can be consulted on EASA Pro.

What happens to the rest of the aerodromes?

  • Those aerodromes that do not fall under the EASA scope are managed by the Member States under their national regulatory framework.

What about military airbases?

  • Airbases controlled and operated by the military do not fall within EASA’s scope. Nevertheless, when they are open to public use, a certain level of safety needs to be ensured by the Member States.

What part of an aerodrome / airport is covered by EASA rules?

  • EU rules apply only to that part of the airside of an aerodrome such as runways, taxiways and aprons, as well as surroundings. They do not cover terminal design or operations (e.g. security check) or car parks.

Ground handling at aerodromes

As one of the newest items in EASA’s safety portfolio, a roadmap for ground handling has been put in place. The roadmap is split in three phases:

  • Phase 1  - Fact finding with EU member states, analysing safety issues and incidents.
  • Phase 2  - Establish scope for EU wide safety standards and rules
  • Phase 3  - Implementation of safety framework and standards throughout Europe.