MPs shocked by many runway incursions at Schiphol, demand explanation

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No image availableNL Times

Dutch parliamentarians were shocked by reports that the number of runway incursions at Schiphol airport is significantly higher than at other airports of similar size. They demand an explanation from responsible State Secretary Sharon Dijksma of Infrastructure and Environment, AD reports.

Earlier on Thursday AD revealed that Schiphol faced 47 runway incursions - incidents in which an aircraft, vehicle or person is on a runway currently being used for a landing or takeoff - last year. While other airports with a similar number of flight movements faced far less. Munich, for example, had only three runway incursions last year, New York John F. Kennedy had five and London Heathrow had 13.

SP parliamentarian Cem Lacin is worried that Schiphol and air traffic control can't handle how busy the airport is becoming. "We also hear from employees at Schiphol themselves that they suffer under a high workload", he said to AD. He thinks the Schiphol leaders must "quickly push money into more people". "The door is wide open for budget airlines, but the staff doesn't grow along." This will lead to more incidents, Lacin said. "At the expense of everything, we must prevent these incidents having a fatal outcome."

PVV parliamentarian Dion Graus also noted that the number of flight movements "increased dramatically, while the number of people remained the same". He referred to an incident reported by the Dutch Safety Board earlier this week. A plane was given the go ahead to takeoff on a runway, while a bird watcher vehicle was still inspecting it. "Those bird watchers came through me", he said. "That such a vehicle is then in the wrong place is an error of air traffic control." he said. "More personnel is needed."

PvdA parliamentarian Atje Kuiken called it "incredibly important" that safety is guaranteed. "So the cabinet must announce that it si following previous recommendations", he said, referring to a report the Dutch Safety Board released in April. The Board warned that a number of measures are needed to ensure safety at the airport, including making the handling of air traffic less complex. 

D66 parliamentarian Rob Jetten pointed out that there will be a parliamentary debate on the situation this autumn, once the government responded to the Safety Board's recommendations. "These figures confirm once again the importance of a quick and strong response", he said to the newspaper. 

"Fortunately there were no victims in these incidents. But it could all have ended very differently", CDA parliamentarian Martijn van Helvert said to the newspaper. He emphasized that "safety must be above all". "We have to prevent accidents, and so I am going to ask parliamentary questions to the Secretary of State, Sharon Dijksma."


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