Is Schiphol a safe airport?

Various media outlets published articles today concerning safety on the runways at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. This is because 47 runway incursions were reported last year. What type of incidents are we talking about? And exactly how unsafe were these situations?

Never make concessions when it comes to safety
Every airport must comply with strict global laws and regulations, including Schiphol. Together with Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL), we have developed a very candid notification culture. We feel it is vital to report any and all incidents. The goal is to learn from past events and to enact measures that will further improve safety for the future. The LVNL investigates every report. Safety always comes first. Day in, day out, a team of professionals (the Runway Safety Team) at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol devotes its constant attention to reducing the occurrence of such runway incursions. 

But what is a runway incursion?
A runway incursion occurs when an aircraft, vehicle or person comes too close to a runway that is in use at that moment. To prevent this from happening, anyone who wants to drive onto a runway must first obtain permission from the air traffic controller in the air traffic control tower. Since 2011, all runways at Schiphol have been equipped with the Runway Incursion Alerting System Schiphol – RIASS. This acts as a safety net system for staff in the air traffic control tower, issuing a warning whenever possible danger arises regarding the proximity of aircraft and vehicles or between various aircraft on runways, as well as the related entry and exit ways. This allows a traffic controller, if possible and necessary, to take any directly suitable safety measures.

Source: LVNL

Various categories of runway incursions
In aviation, we distinguish four different categories of runway incursions: A – D. In category D, there are no direct consequences for the safety on a runway. Category A concerns a serious incident in which a collision was narrowly avoided. The last time such a category A incident took place at Schiphol was in 2009. Of the 47 runway incursions in 2016, 36 involved a category D runway incursion, 11 were classified as C and none were assigned to categories A or B. Figures for 2017 are not yet available.

Schiphol is a safe airport
We have said it before, but it bears repeating: together with all our partners, we at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol work around the clock to provide our passengers with a safe and carefree flight. In April 2017, the Dutch Safety Board published its Air Traffic Safety at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol report, in which they concluded that Schiphol is in compliance with all nationally and internationally regulated security levels. In order to continue to operate safely during and after further expansion of the airport, the board made a number of recommendations.

More information on runway incursions: https://www.lvnl.nl/over-ons/veiligheid/runway-incursion.html