Extra system support in air traffic control tower for safer runway use at Schiphol

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Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL) has introduced a new safety function in the air traffic control system at the air traffic control towers at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. If a runway is unavailable, the new function warns the air traffic controller and blocks the electronic flight strips that are used in the tower. This safety net prevents the use of a runway that has not been made available by the relevant authorities. This will make it safer to start using take-off and landing runways.


The display screen of the tower controllers shows the various take-off and landing runways, including an Electronic Flight Strip for each aircraft. The air traffic controller places the flight strips on their screen on the runway that is being used for the aircraft to take off or land.


José Daenen, Director of Operations LVNL: “The extra safety function in the system gives air traffic controllers a digital warning if a runway is selected that is not available. In addition, the unavailable runways are marked red on the screen. If the air traffic controller still gives permission to take off or land on that runway, the system gives another warning. By ensuring that aircraft can only take off or land on an available runway, we are continuing to improve safety at Schiphol.”


Implementation of new safety function

Since the introduction of Electronic Flight Strips in April 2019, it became possible to build additional safety functions into the system. This function is the first safety improvement that was developed in 2019 after the implementation of the system, and was implemented successfully in the night of 16 to 17 March 2020. On 18 January 2020, sixteen aircraft landed on a runway that had not yet been released for use; this extra system support will prevent such situations from happening again.


This measure is part of the Schiphol Safety Improvement Roadmap of the Schiphol Integrated Safety Management System (ISMS), a partnership between various parties dedicated to the continued improvement of all aspects of safety at Schiphol.