Loss of separation due to airspace infringement Schiphol

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On September 13 th 2014 an airspace infringement occurred close to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The crew of an aircraft notified air traffic control that they encountered two paragliders in controlled airspace while making their approach to runway 36R, also known as Aalsmeerbaan, at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. LVNL has reported this incident to the Dutch Safety Board and is conducting its own investigation.

What is an airspace infringement?

Internationally, an airspace infringement is defined as: “A flight into notified airspace without previously requesting and obtaining approval from the controlling authority of that airspace in accordance with international and national regulations.”


Research shows that there are various underlying causes of airspace infringements.

  • Inadequate flight preparation.
  • Use of outdated navigation charts.
  • Use of an outdated navigation database.
  • Navigational errors or loss of situational awareness.
  • Excessive workload in the cockpit.
  • Inadequate access to information.
  • Substandard use of radiotelephony.


Incident investigation

The primary responsibility of Air Traffic Control the Netherlands is ensuring the separation of aircraft from other aircraft and ground vehicles. All safety events that are reported at Air Traffic Control the Netherlands are investigated with the objective to learn and improve, and thus reduce the probability of similar incidents in the future.

Summary of investigation results

In the afternoon of Saturday, September 13 th 2014, an aircraft and two paragliders came closer than the separation minimum during an approach to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. While approaching runway 36R (Aalsmeerbaan) from the south to Schiphol airport (in control zone CTR3), the crew of a Boeing 737-800 (B738) observed two paragliders in controlled airspace estimated to be at around 1800 ft, close to their aircraft. They notified air traffic control (ATC), who could not confirm the presence of these paragliders, as they were not visible on radar. The crew of a following aircraft, a Boeing 777-200 (B772), also reported a visual confirmation of the paragliders. Based on the information of both flight crews, the distance between the B738 and the paragliders was estimated at 0,3 NM and 200ft. As a safety precaution, ATC informed all inbound aircraft of the possible presence of paragliders and notified the aviation police to make sure all paragliders exited controlled airspace. However the aviation police did not find paragliders in the indicated airspace. All aircraft continued their flights uneventfully. During the investigation after the event, ATC could not confirm the presence of paragliders due to their invisibility on  radar.


Classification: serious incident