Following the tragic accident at Überlingen in 2002, Federal Councillor Moritz Leuenberger took the decision to commission a thorough evaluation of air safety in Switzerland. The assignment went to the renowned Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory NLR. In 2003, following a detailed study, the NLR made 28 recommendations. The head of DETEC charged the General Secretariat of his department, the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA), the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) and Skyguide, the agency responsible for controlling airspace owned by the Confederation, with implementing the measures put forward to the federal government. This project was named `Safir' (safety first).
Progress at all levels
At the end of 2006, the NLR was invited by Federal Councillor Leuenberger to conduct a comprehensive post-implementation audit. In its report published today, the NLR concludes that Switzerland has made significant progress in terms of safety management. This applies to the department (DETEC) and to the FOCA as well as to Skyguide. The measures put in place are deemed to be correct and effective. Particular reference is made to the strengthening of supervision at the DETEC General Secretariat, the adoption of the aviation policy report including the setting of Swiss aviation safety policy by the Federal Council and the reorganisation of the FOCA together with an increase in staffing levels.
Amendments to legislation in preparation
The report does however point out a number of incomplete tasks. The amendment of legislation enabling confidential incident reporting and the reorganisation of the AAIB have not yet been completed. A comprehensive revision of the Aviation Act is however being prepared and will incorporate the necessary modifications. As far as Skyguide is concerned, there is still a shortage of staff in terms of air traffic controllers. In order to resolve this problem, Skyguide is currently examining the possibility of closer cooperation with German and French air traffic control and the introduction of additional training courses.
Address for enquiries:
Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC), Press and Information service, Bundeshaus Nord, 3003 Bern, +41.31.322.55.11