Aviation safety highlights from the EUR NAT region


The ICAO EUR/NAT Regional Office continued to address COVID-19 induced safety risks in 2021. It started with a dedicated seminar on vaccine transportation covering multiple topics to include safety-related aspects pertaining to dangerous goods. It continued with enabling a smooth transition from COVID-19 related differences (CCRD) to Targeted Exemptions (TE) system and gradual removal of TEs to ensure the return to normal operations.

Another milestone was the pilot implementation of the Aviation Safety Risk Management related to COVID-19 iPACK for the CAA in Georgia which laid the basis to cope with COVID-19 national safety risks and enabling the improvement of national State Safety Risk Management tools, in general, as an integral part of State Safety Programme. The application of project management principles embraced in iPACK are seen as a good practice for State Safety Programme implementation or improvement in the States.

The ICAO EUR 2020 Annual Safety Report (EUR ASR 2020) was published in 2021 and provided an overview of the safety performance of the EUR Region towards the GASP goals and targets which underscored a continuous decreasing trend of accident rate, strengthening EUR States’ safety oversight capabilities as well as implementing the air navigation and airport core infrastructure as our joint achievements.

 At the same time, there is still room for improvement on the implementation of State Safety Programme (SSP) as well as the use of industry programmes.

The Regional Expert Safety Group (RESG) was established as a main safety branch of the European Aviation System Planning Group (EASPG) and produced the revised 2022-2024 version of the European Regional Aviation Safety Plan. Mechanism for future updates, monitoring and reporting on EUR RASP implementation will be among our main tasks in 2022.

Simultaneously, RESG continued its work on safety enhancement initiatives in the areas of pilot training and runway safety.

Competency-based training and assessment (CBTA) projects for Russia and Kazakhstan are successfully progressing. The combined experience with EASA, is a very good way forward to build on for further improvement in other States.

Runway Safety-related risks (both traditional and COVID-19 introduced) were closely monitored and addressed during RESG meetings and through dedicated global and regional webinars. Given the COVID-19 restrictions our office participated in the development of remotely conducted ICAO Runway Safety Go-teams, that will be tested in 2022.

The evolution of the ICAO USOAP programme was another headline for 2021. Introduction of the new version of protocol questions, evolution of SSP Implementation assessment, implementation of virtual validation activities was supported by the ICAO EUR/NAT staff. Two meetings and workshops were organized for European National Continuous Monitoring Coordinators in cooperation with ICAO Headquarters and EASA. ICAO EUR/NAT Regional Officers participated in several USOAP CMA virtual activities (ICVM for Iceland and Kazakhstan) as well as supported an on-site restart of USOAP programme.

The joint ICAO-Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) regional project continued its successful operation throughout 2021 with the full support of ICAO EUR/NAT Office. In particular, an Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation (AIG) workshop in April 2021 should be mentioned. All the activities were conducted in virtual mode, with the hope for a return to a hybrid or normal working environment in 2022.

Overall, 2021 was another example of how cooperation played a key role in driving safety improvements through the current crisis. We would like to thank all our Member States, regional and international partners: EASA, EUROCONTROL, IAC, IATA, IFALPA, ACI EUROPE, CANSO EUROPE, Airbus, Boeing and others who helped to make this a reality. Corresponding safety oversight improvements and removal of Republic of Moldova from EU Air Safety List in 2021 is one of many positive outcomes of such cooperation.

We have completed the development of the NAT Vision 2030 which provides a pathway to prioritize and deliver a proportionate series of improvements, to enhance operational flexibility, resilience through the development of contingency procedures and improvements in communication performance. All of these has been achieved within the context of a developing cyber threat and enabled the optimal use of emerging technologies and techniques, as well as new entrants such as unmanned flight, supersonic or suborbital operations.

In 2022, the ICAO EUR/NAT office will continue its cooperation with States, Regional and International Organizations in order to minimize safety risks induced by the pandemic. In particular work on Targeted Exemptions for them to be used only in exceptional cases, with due risk mitigations and thereafter removed as soon as the situation is back to normal.

ICAO will continue focusing on the facilitation of EUR RASP implementation within States through the National Aviation Safety Plans. Specific workshops and targeted assistance are planned for States in 2022 coupled with monitoring mechanisms to be launched in cooperation with EASA and EUROCONTROL.

In the traditional safety areas, Runway Safety and Pilot training will continue as a priority. Several safety seminars and conferences are already planned for 2022. Other safety topics will be reviewed for focused implementation prioritization.

Finally, support to the USOAP CMA programme development, in particular the deployment of State Safety Programme Implementation Assessments (SSPIAs), will be another priority for 2022.