Schiphol's explosive growth puts safety at risk: Dutch Safety Board

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No image availableNL Times

Schiphol Airport can not continue to grow responsibly without taking drastic measures to ensure safety, the Dutch Safety Board said in a report on safety at the Netherlands' largest airport on Thursday. "The boundaries of safe handing of air traffic are approaching", the board concludes, AD reports. 

In order for the airport to continue to grow safely, drastic measures must be taken, according to the Board. The current handling of air traffic is too complex and must be simplified. And air traffic control, responsible for making sure everything goes smoothly, is under great pressure. According to the Board, there are signs of a "structural lack of capacity". The control tower is full and to handle the increasing traffic, controllers often have to depart from standards and routines. 

The air traffic controllers' jobs are more complex because a different combination of runways is used 18 times per day. This is to keep the noise pollution for local residents within limits, but the Safety Board recommends switching combinations less often.

Another vulnerable point is that the takeoff and landing runways cross each other. This can cause problems, for example if a landing airplane must make a new start and crosses paths with an airplane taking off. 

The Safety Board stressed that there is "no evidence that the airport is currently unsafe. But to keep the risks manageable, intervention is necessary." The board also calls on the government to explicitly set itself up as ultimately responsible for the airport.

This investigation was launched following several incidents at the airport, including a near collision between aircraft. 


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