It is unfortunately the hard way that progress was made in aviation throughout history.
The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) in March 2014 and the Air France AF447 accident over the Atlantic in 2009 followed the same unfortunate path. However, these accidents also pushed the aviation community to really address the issue of flight tracking – and find actual solutions.
The good news is that 85% of the search for MH370 is now complete, with the full 100% expected to be achieved by end-June 2016.
There are several challenges to global aircraft tracking, amongst which what triggers the improved ping rate from the 15-minutes mandated by ICAO to the 5 of 1 minute required for very accurate identification of the aircraft, and what data to transmit.
ICAO has recently approved Annex 6 SARPs for Aircraft Tracking and for Distress Tracking.
At the end of the day, the way forward is to work together to achieve a regulation that has good rationale, and that references EUROCAE and RTCA standards as a means to comply.
Too many accidents in international aviation are due to runway related conditions still today.
There are many initiatives at international and regional level; however, the operating environment is a very complex one. It is also dependent upon too many variables, such as: the aircraft type, weather conditions, runway conditions, etc.
For years ICAO has been stressing how important this area of operations is, especially as it stands at the intersection between systems and people.
At European level, EASA’s European Plan for Aviation Safety (EPAS) offers the platform to focus the efforts to improve safety in general and runway safety in particular. EASA’s efforts would be strengthened by involving EUROCAE Working Groups, to ensure objective rules.
Airlines are fully involved in developing and promoting ways of mitigating the risks of runway incursions and excursions. Such means could include training and assessment for pilots, improved flight deck procedures while taxiing, communication improvements (phraseology, one common aeronautical language, proficiency), and airport markings and lighting.
However, runway safety initiatives cannot be sustained by any one stakeholder alone. It takes a sustained effort by all stakeholders to mitigate the runway safety risks.
Increased performance, cost-efficiency and safety requirements require a more homogenous and standardised information exchange.
System Wide Information Management (SWIM) and other automation and networking programmes are demanding a new holistic approach.
First question would be: what is included in cybersecurity? Data needs to be protected, but what data needs to be protected?
Information security must ensure at the same time confidentiality, data integrity, but also availability of data for rightful use.
On the other hand, threats could be internal (people and technology) and external. Therefore, a layer approach is most effective, but cost should be considered.
Very importantly, a balance to security must be ensured, so that measures taken would not have the opposite effect. We have to be mindful that companies must connect existing infrastructure. And new challenges emerge exactly from that, as well as from the need for greater information sharing, greater interconnectivity, and data communications in general.
In aviation, we need to promote a robust cybersecurity culture backed by proper training, learn from the best practices in other industries to avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts, and ultimately not to act in isolation.
Yet, technical means can never be 100% secure. It is therefore essential that operational mitigations are put in place, too.
The UAS – RPAS market is growing faster and faster. It is also very volatile, which creates new challenges.
Political, technical, and economical questions are all intertwined when it comes to this topic. Also, there are many new entrants into the traditional aviation industry, that do not share traditional aviation values, which creates pressure from customers, and overwhelms regulators. Furthermore, in this particular area privacy concerns appear to be of a higher priority for the public opinion than aviation safety.
Currently regulation at EU level applies to aircraft above 150kg, leaving a lot of room for national jurisdiction for those aircraft below 150kg. This has led to a very fragmented situation with varying rules in different countries.
With EASA A-NPA 2015/10 and Technical Opinion 2015/12 a new approach to regulation was described. It is no longer the weight of the aircraft that dictates which legal regime to apply but the type of operation and the associated risk. This operation centric, risk based approach has led to the definition of three types of operational categories: Open, Specific and Certified.
While at the top end, the certified category, airworthiness of the aircraft will be as important as for manned aviation and the same requirements may be applied, the Specific and Certified operations will require a more flexible approach.
Especially the determination of the risk of Specific Operations will play a key role in the approval process. An assessment methodology has already been proposed by JARUS (the Joint Authority for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems), but the implementation of this process will require the drafting of standards to ensure a harmonised application.
For the Open Category very light to no regulation will ensure that the industrial development is not hampered. However, to ensure the safe coexistence of manned and unmanned aviation within the same airspace standard procedures will have to be defined. Geo-Fencing and Identification are only two examples for such measures.
EUROCAE has an important role to play: to drive the industry standards and enable the framework to develop the business opportunities, and run safe and lucrative commercial operations.