These include ATC, aerodromes, ground handling and drone activities.
The number of separation minima infringements with ATC contribution was 20, which is less than half of the previous year's figure of 47. The number was also less than half of the average for 2013-2019 (41.6). Also, the number of operations decreased in 2020 by about half from the longer term average, so the situation stayed much the same when put into proportion. The separation minima infringements mostly took place either at Helsinki Airport, in Jyväskylä or in Pori. About half of these incidents were separation minima infringements between aircraft and half were infringements between aircraft and different types of controlled airspace. None of the incidents caused significant risk to air traffic.
The number of runway incursions with ATC contribution was one, when in the previous year the figure was six and the average for 2013-2019 is 6.6. This means that the situation is developing in a noticeably more positive direction, even when considering the decrease in operation numbers.
The number of runway incursions caused by ground vehicles was 17. The number is slightly lower than the previous year (19) and around average for 2013-2019 (16.9). However, when put into relation with the decrease of operations, the situation developed in a decidedly negative direction. Runway incursions took place fairly evenly around Finland. The number of runway incursions began rising at the end of 2019, after which measures were taken to decrease the number, and the measures should be continued in order to keep the situation under control in 2021 when the amount of traffic is likely to start increasing.
A majority of the runway incursions that took place on controlled airports occurred during quiet times, when there was little other traffic.
Ground handling services were involved in the cabin crew fall accident in January as well as a serious incident in which a child almost fell through the gap between the airplane and the passenger boarding bridge.
Drone activities have increased steadily from 2015 onwards, and this has been evident especially as near-miss situations in the air, where the parties have been a drone and typically a commercial air transport aircraft. Many of these situations have led to serious incidents, although actual collisions have been avoided. There was a decrease in serious incidents in 2019 and the same trend can be seen in 2020, when only two serious incidents caused by drones were reported in Finland. In 2019, there had been five serious incidents and in 2018 seven.
The number of reports made by drone operators rose slightly from the previous year, although the numbers are still fairly low. A typical reported incident in drone operation is loss of control, which usually occurred due to a technical fault. Several collisions with obstacles were also reported. These often led to the destruction of the drone and were therefore technically accidents. However, the EU has not yet given out guidelines for classifying incidents with unmanned aircraft, so at this point they have not been recorded as accidents but instead in the loss of control(LOC-I) category or the CFIT category.
The EU regulation that was mainly implemented on 31 December 2020 also affects the reporting duty of drone operators depending on the class of the drone and the type of operation. All operators have the duty to make a flight safety report (Ulkoinen linkki) every time a manned aircraft is involved or there are injuries. A broader reporting duty applies to operators in special or certified classes, but Traficom encourages all operators to voluntarily report anything that might have an impact on operation safety.
The significant decrease in manned air traffic in 2020 makes estimating the true situation difficult, but signs point to the fact that awareness of e.g. airspace limits among drone operators has become better. The pan-European regulations and the resulting training requirements that come into effect from the beginning of 2021 will likely further increase the operators’ awareness of regulations and safe modes of operation.
More information on regulations and drone activities can be found at Droneinfo (Ulkoinen linkki)maintained by Traficom.