Managing the safety and security of flight operations
Safe and secure aircraft operations and ensuring that the infrastructure and systems are operable in technical terms are crucial to airports. As a result, the European Union has set common standards for airport planning, operation, and maintenance, and FMG is obligated to implement these standards on a binding basis. Munich Airport’s operating license is directly dependent on renewal of its EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) certification, which was granted in December 2017. Under this certification, the airport must demonstrate constant compliance with relevant requirements to the responsible supervisory authority, the South Bavarian Aviation Office at the District Government of Upper Bavaria. Munich Airport has a safety management system as one way to achieve these aims. Through the system, the airport continuously monitors ongoing flight and handling operations with an eye to risks and trends in order to identify targeted action early on. To meet the requirements, FMG makes structural changes in the infrastructure relevant to flight operations or to the operational and organizational processes in keeping with EASA specifications, utilizing safety risk assessments and compliance checks in the process. This approach helps to minimize potential accidents, thereby proactively improving the safety of flight operations on an ongoing basis.
Drones: a possible danger to flight operations
Unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) are invisible to air traffic control for technical reasons, so they pose a threat to flight operations at and around airports. To maintain the safety of flight operations and be able to initiate even more effective protective measures in the future, clear detection and identification of drones is necessary. In the first feasibility study of its kind thus far, Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH worked closely with FMG to test drone detection systems at Munich Airport on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Transport from August to November 2020. These tests provided insight into the current status of this technology, particularly with regard to the possible detection range and the general performance capabilities of the systems available on the market. The insights gleaned form the basis for developing a concept for detecting drones at airports in Germany.
Biotope management provides protection from bird strikes
Collisions between aircraft and heavyweight birds or flocks of birds can endanger the safety of flight operations. Through special biotope management practices that do not adversely affect the birds’ protection, Munich Airport is taking action to prevent possible collisions:
- The green areas around the runways are mown according to a concept that is adjusted to the local conditions.
- The terrain at and around the airport is designed to prevent bird species that pose a critical risk to air traffic from settling there in the first place.
- The drainage channels near the runways are spanned by steel ropes in order to make access difficult, particularly for waterfowl.
- Wildlife Management employees monitor the bird population on the airport grounds and in relevant biotopes within the vicinity in order to ward off potential dangers from bird flight movements at an early stage.
FMG works closely with the relevant partners and institutions on the topic of bird strike prevention, particularly with the airlines, German air traffic control, regional and higher-level authorities, and the GBSC (the German Bird Strike Committee). The statistics from the GBSC show that Munich Airport has had a relatively low bird strike rate for many years now. The rate on the airport grounds (Area 1) was about 53 percent below the German average in 2020.