A good safety performance was achieved in Finnish commercial air transport in 2019. There were no accidents.
The number of serious incidents (10) was slightly lower than in the year before (12) but remained considerably higher than the longer-term average (6 in 2013-2018).
Serious Airprox incidents, five of which occurred in drone operations in the spring, increased the number of serious incidents. Regardless of the increased volume of drone operations, however, this figure went down by one compared to 2018.
In the light of tier 2 indicators (the most typical causal factors of accidents), the great number of Airprox incidents is significant.
Globally, 20 fatal accidents occurred in commercial air transport in 2019 (aircraft types registered for 14 or more passengers), which led to the loss of 283 lives in total. Of these accidents, 14 occurred in passenger traffic (of which seven in scheduled passenger traffic) and six in cargo operations. While the number of fatal accidents was considerably higher than the five-year average (14) last year, the number of fatalities (480) was below the five-year average. As a whole, 2019 was one of the safest years in aviation.
While the greatest number of accidents occurred in North America, most of the fatalities resulted from four accidents in Africa and Russia. The estimated number of flights in 2019 was approx. 39 million. In proportion to this figure, one fatality occurred per 2 million flights. Source: Aviation Safety Network
No accidents in Finland, or involving Finnish aircraft, occurred in commercial air traffic in 2019.
To browse accident statistics starting from 2005 (in Finnish), visit here.
Isolated events classified as accidents have occurred in connection with sight-seeing flights, business aviation and cargo operations, but accidents involving Finnish aircraft in scheduled traffic are extremely rare.
The accidents and serious incidents are examined annually in proportion to information on hours flown collected from the owners of Finnish aircraft. The statistics on hours flown in 2019 will be completed in spring 2020.
The statistics on hours flown in 2018 were completed in spring 2019 and can be accessed here. An initial estimate indicates that the number of hours flown will remain more or less the same in 2019.
In 2018, the hours flown in Finnish commercial air transport amounted to 281,749. The imputed number of accidents in 2006-2018 would be approx. 0.01 accidents per 10,000 hours flown. If we deduct from this figure all accidents not having occurred in scheduled traffic, the imputed probability of an accident is even smaller.
|Accidents, commercial air transport||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||2||0||0||1||0||0||0||0|
|Fatalities, commercial air transport||0|
|Accidents per 10 000 commercial air transport flight hours||0||0,0384||0||0||0||0||0,0382||0||0,0789||0||0||0,03716||0||0||0||0|
|Accidents per 10 000 flight hours, all Finnish aviation||0,376||0,3359||0,3802||0,3674||0,2562||0,40703||0,34585||0,23433||0,637766||0,40376||0,19959||0,40761||0,13323||0,26||0,20||0,35|
|Fatalities per 10 000 commercial air transport flight hours||0||0,53846153||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Fatalities per 10 000 flight hours all Finnish aviation||0,11577357||0,39199325||0,11700045||0,02624782||0,07687872||0,10854257||0,1152854||0,07811198||0,18221906||0,20188153||0,31364229||0||0||0,003||0||0,06|
In 2019, there were 10 serious incidents. This is less than in 2018 (12) but still considerably more than the average for 2013-2018 (6).
The number of serious incidents was increased by five serious Airprox incidents caused by drones in the vicinity of Helsinki-Vantaa airport in the spring. However, this number went down by one compared to the year before. As serious incidents were classified cases where a drone was so close to an aircraft that a collision was only avoided by good fortune.
A foreign aircraft engaged in commercial air transport was a party to one serious incident during the year, as a Latvian scheduled flight was involved in a runway excursion in Savonlinna. The Safety Investigation Authority published a report on this incident in December.
To browse statistics on serious incidents starting from 2005 (in Finnish), visit here.
There were approx. 0.43 serious incidents per 10,000 hours flown in 2018. This figure is significantly higher than the average for 2006-2017, which was 0.26 per 10,000 hours flown.
An initial estimate indicates that the number of hours flown will remain more or less the same in 2019, which means that the number of serious incidents would be approx. 0.34 per 10,000 hours flown.
|Serious incidents, Finnish commercial air transport||2||1||7||6||6||11||11||8||7||1||6||8||4||8||12||10|
|Serious incidents, foreign commercial air transport in Finland||1||4||5||3||4||3||2||4||3||0||1||2||2||3||3||1|
|Serious incidents per 10 000 commercial air transport flight hours||0,08||0,0384||0,2916||0,2131||0,1949||0,4021||0,4203||0,2657||0,27635||0,03485||0,2111||0,2973||0,1641||0,28||0,43||0,36|
|Serious incidents per 10 000 flight hours, all Finnish aviation||0,1763||0,25199||0,73125||0,4724||0,7944||0,8140||0,6340||0,75508||0,97183||0,5129||0,6557||0,6696||0,6994||0,78||0,95||0,65|
|Serious incidents / 100 000 flight hours||1,6364||2,2807||3,0445||2,992||3,119||2,87||2,49||2,24||2,04||2,05||2,04||3,04|
In Finnish general and recreational aviation, the year 2019 marked a slight deterioration in the safety performance compared to previous years. There were 12 accidents, of which two were fatal. Both accidents resulted in the loss of one life. These were the first fatal accidents since July 2017.
The total number of accidents was higher than the longer-term average (9 in 2013-2018).
Eight serious incidents were reported, which is one half of the previous year’s number and the longer-term average.
In Finnish general and recreational aviation, the year 2019 marked a slight deterioration in the safety performance compared to previous years. There were 12 accidents, of which two were fatal. Both accidents resulted in the loss of one life. These were the first fatal accidents since July 2017.
The total number of accidents exceeded the average for 2013-2018 (9). Loss of control, runway excursions and ground collisions were the most common causal factors of accidents last year.
There were eight serious incidents, which is one half less compared to the previous year’s figure and the average for 2013-2018.
The difference between the definition for an accident and a serious incident often is relatively minor. An event that on one occasion only results in a need for minor repairs (a serious incident) may, on another occasion, damage the aircraft so badly that it must be written off, or serious injuries are sustained (an accident). Accurate definitions for an accident and a serious incident can be found at the end of this page.
Last year, some operators in general and recreational aviation were lucky, while others were not. No personal injuries were sustained in some serious, high-energy incidents, whereas cases of runway excursions at low speeds damaged the aircraft beyond repair.
When the numbers of accidents and serious incidents are added up, we note that the total figure is equal to or slightly lower than in previous years. However, two persons lost their lives in last year’s accidents, and as a whole, we can say that the safety performance in 2019 was slightly poorer than in earlier years.
When we look at tier 2 indicators for 2019, attention is drawn to Airprox incidents and runway incursions.
In 2019, a total of 12 accidents occurred in Finnish general and recreational aviation, of which eight in recreational aviation and four in general aviation.
The number of accidents in recreational aviation (which includes ultra-light aircraft and gliders) was doubled compared to 2018 and also exceeded the average for 2013-2018 (6.3). In general aviation (all domains excluding commercial air transport), this figure was slightly lower than in 2018 and higher than the longer-term average (2.8).
The total number of accidents exceeded the average for 2013-2018 (9).
The greatest share of accidents last year occurred in connection with approach or landing. They included runway excursions, loss of control cases and ground collisions. These event types have also often been background factors of accidents in recent years. To browse statistics on accidents and serious incidents starting from 2005 in Finnish, visit here.
While fatalities have been rare in recent years, two fatal accidents occurred in 2019 with the loss of two lives in both cases. The average for 2013-2018 is 1.5 for this type of accidents.
One of the accidents occurred when an ultra-light aircraft collided with terrain after take-off in Pirkkala, while the other was caused by an unsuccessful emergency landing of an experimental aircraft after it had engine trouble.
The Safety Investigation Authority has launched an investigation of the collision with terrain of the ultra-light aircraft at Pirkkala airport. The Safety Investigation Authority is also investigating another accident where an ultra-light aircraft crashed into forest after take-off. On this occasion, the pilot survived. Both aircraft were operated by a student pilot. In the investigation of the accident in Pirkkala, the Safety Investigation Authority found that the location of the rudder pedals in the cockpit of the aircraft type involved in the accident (EV97 Eurostar) enables their inadvertent incorrect use. Before even completing the investigation, the Authority published a safety recommendation concerning a modification that would prevent these situations.
In drone operations, 11 reports of the devices having been destroyed were received, which is slightly fewer than in the year before.
In principle, these cases are also accidents. The EU-level principles for classifying incidents involving unmanned aircraft have not entered into force yet, however, and rather than accidents, they have thus typically been recorded as cases of loss of control at this stage.
The accidents and serious incidents are examined annually in proportion to information on hours flown collected from the owners of Finnish aircraft. The statistics on hours flown in 2019 will be completed later in the spring. Initial estimates indicate that the hours flown in 2019 will be slightly less than in 2018. It is thus also likely that a poorer safety performance will be recorded for 2019 regarding accident numbers in proportion to hours flown.
According to statistics for 2018, the number of hours flown was 40,368 in general aviation and 20,987 in sport aviation.
In general aviation, 0.74 accidents, and in sport aviation, 1.91 accidents occurred per 10,000 hours flown. In general aviation, the average for 2006-2017 was 0.82 accidents per 10,000 hours flown. In sport aviation, this average was 2.46.
|Accidents, general aviation||5||7||6||4||4||4||5||1||8||5||3||2||1||3||3||4|
|Accidents, recreational aviation||8||4||7||10||6||11||6||8||11||9||4||11||3||6||4||8|
|Fatalities, general aviation||2||0||2||0||3||1||1||0||2||3||9||0||0||1||0||1|
|Fatalities, recreational aviation||2||0||2||1||0||3||3||3||4||4||2||0||0||0||0||1|
|Total accidents, general and recreational aviation||13||11||13||14||10||15||11||9||19||14||7||13||4||8||7||12|
In 2019, accidents claimed two lives. The last time a fatal accident occurred in Finnish general and sport aviation was in 2017, and last year’s safety performance was thus poorer than in previous years. However, this figure was lower than the average for 2013-2018 (3.5).
|Fataö accidents, Finnish general and recreational aviation||3||1||1||3||3||2||4||4||4||0||0||1||0||2|
|Fatalities in general and recreational aviation, 4 years avg||2,25||2||3||3||3,5||4,25||5||6,75||6||4,5||3||0,25||0,75|
In 2019, a total of eight serious incidents occurred in Finnish general and recreational aviation, of which one in recreational aviation and seven in general aviation.
The number of serious incidents in recreational aviation was significantly lower than this figure for 2018 (8) and the average for 2013-2018 (8.2). In general aviation, too, this figure was only around one half of the number in 2018 (13) and also below the average for 2013-2018 (9.5).
As we noted before, however, quite a few of last year’s accidents in general and sport aviation could, with better luck, have remained serious incidents.
The statistics on hours flown in 2019 will be completed later in the spring. .
Initial estimates indicate that the hours flown in 2019 will be slightly less than in 2018. In any case, it is likely that last year will be better than previous years also in terms of serious incidents in proportion to hours flown.
In 2018, 3.22 serious incidents occurred in general aviation and 3.81 in sport aviation per 10,000 hours flown.
In general aviation, the average for 2006-2017 was 2.18, and in recreational aviation 2.79, serious incidents per 10,000 hours flown.
|Serious incidents, recreational aviation||1||6||8||5||14||5||4||9||14||11||7||9||9||6||8||1|
|Serious incidents, general aviation||3||2||10||7||11||14||7||12||11||6||10||6||8||13||13||7|
|Total serious incidents, general and recreational aviation||4||8||18||12||25||19||11||21||25||17||17||15||17||20||18||8|
These include ATC, aerodromes, ground handling and drone activities.
The number of separation minima infringements with ATC contribution showed an increase in 2019 after having decreased several years in a row. The number of these cases (47) also exceeded the longer-term average (38.5). The greatest increase was recorded in infringements of a separation minimum between aircraft, or between aircraft and different types of controlled airspace. The number of actual infringements of a separation minimum between aircraft (radar separation or wake vortex separation) only increased slightly. According to data for 2019, the traffic volume went up in Area Control Centre Finland but decreased at airports.
The number of runway incursions with ATC contribution (6) went down compared to 2018 (10). A decrease was recorded at Helsinki-Vantaa airport, in particular (from 5 to 2). The total number is now more or less on par with the longer-term average.
The number of runway incursions caused by ground vehicles was 18 in 2019, which is slightly more than the year before but similar to the longer-term average.
One serious incident occurred in ground handling during the year, in which the airstair moved during boarding and a passenger almost fell off.
Drone operations have increased steadily since 2015, and this has been reflected every year in the number of Airprox incidents, in particular. The parties to these near misses have typically been a drone and an aircraft engaged in commercial air transport. While many of them have led to serious incidents, collisions have been avoided.
In 2019, the increase in the number of reported near misses caused by drone operations stalled and started decreasing: 15 situations were reported in Finland, whereas this figure was 23 the year before. Outside Finland, the number of incidents involving a Finnish aircraft and a drone was the same as last year (8).
Almost all of the Airprox incidents were reported by aircraft pilots. However, the drones usually are relatively small and difficult to observe from the cockpit, and it is possible that the number of these incidents is higher than what the reports indicate. The increase in the number of near misses has continued for several years, and the fact that it was curbed in 2019 was in any case a positive result, especially considering the growing volume of drone operations.
Traficom strives to contribute to improving the safety of drone operations, for instance by means of the Droneinfo application as well as newsletters and safety bulletins. It is also believed that the European regulation to enter into force in summer 2020 will improve the safety performance.
Open reporting of occurrences and fair processing of the reports has always been seen as one of the mainstays of aviation safety. When the threshold for reporting is low, a more accurate picture of the development needs in the operations can be obtained, and safety can be improved more effectively. A large number of reports can be regarded as a sign of a good safety culture. The Just Culture principles are followed in Finland when processing safety reports. For a more detailed description of how the reports are processed, see section 2.5 of the Finnish Aviation Safety Programme.
In 2019, the number of reports submitted to Traficom was slightly lower than in 2018. Approx. 9,300 reports were received, whereas this figure for the year before was slightly over 9,500. However, it exceeded the average for 2013-2018 by approx. 2,600 reports.
|Number of reports||1948||2394||2378||3598||3563||3872||5223||6203||6094||5309||7506||9600||9300|
The reports are classified on the basis of several different variables. The graph below shows the distribution of incidents in 2019 based on the aviation domain in which the reported incident occurred. Most of these reports concern commercial operation and are received from flight operations and different ground organisations.
|Commercial air transport||2600|
|Others (incl. ground handling, drones)||1800|
|Air navigation services||1100|
|General and recreational aviation||700|
Traficom’s principles and practical activities related to improving aviation safety are described in the Finnish Aviation Safety Programme (FASP) and its Annexes, especially the Finnish Plan for Aviation Safety. This plan will be updated once more in winter 2020.
To familiarise yourself with the valid programme and plan, go to the Finnish aviation safety management pages.
Performance and risk-based oversight was continued and developed further in line with the actions described in the Finnish Plan for Aviation Safety. For a detailed description on this, see FASP Chapter 3 and Traficom’s website dedicated to Performance and Risk-based oversight.
National risk management in Finnish aviation continued following the process described in section 2.6 of FASP (the so-called FASP process). National risk pictures for Finnish aviation were produced for several domains, and operator organisations were extensively involved in the risk assessment work. In addition to internal workshops, a total of 11 risk workshops were held with aviation organisations. Their results have influenced decision-making on risk management and measures aiming to maintain and improve safety.
In addition to the risk workshops, Traficom organised several other stakeholder events for operators in different domains of aviation. For more information on these events, see FASP section 4.2 and Traficom’s events pages.
Traficom also organised the EASA Annual Safety Conference 2019 in Helsinki together with EASA. The annual Lentoon! safety seminar was again organised in cooperation with the Finnish Aeronautical Association, Finavia, ANS Finland, the Finnish Meteorological Institute and AOPA Finland.
Several safety bulletins were published on a variety of topics.
Based on feedback received from users, the Droneinfo application was developed to also include areas with temporary flight restrictions.
Traficom continued to exert influence in international forums with the aim of developing aviation safety regulation, operating models and safety promotion practices.
In addition to higher-level indicators for the safety performance,
(tier 1; accidents, serious incidents and fatalities), various lower-level indicators (tiers 2 and 3) are used to monitor the development of operative risk factors.
Tier 2 indicators include the most significant causal factors of accidents;
Below the situation for 2019 is analysed based on these tier 2 indicators.
Definitions of the indicators can be found further below.
In 2019, eight runway excursions that occurred in Finland or involved Finnish aircraft were reported. This was less than in 2018 (12) and slightly below the average for 2013-2018 (9.5). Three of these cases resulted in an accident and two in a serious incident. On average in 2013-2018, runway excursions have led to 1.3 accidents, and in this respect the safety performance in 2019 was poorer.
Most runway excursions occurred in general aviation, which has been typical in recent years. The runway excursions usually happened while landing. In many cases, challenging wind conditions, which resulted in a steering error on landing, were a contributory factor. In two cases, a technical fault also had a role in the event, and in one, excessive speed after landing when exiting the runway was a contributory factor.
The runway excursion cases were more or less equally distributed around Finland. Two runway excursions each occurred at Malmi and Jämijärvi.
In January, a Latvian aircraft in commercial air transport was involved in a runway excursion in Savonlinna. The Safety Investigation Authority completed its investigation of this incident in December.
|RE Recreational aviation||1||1||7||2||4||2||4||9||10||5||4||9||3||3||4||2|
|RE General aviation||0||2||2||6||8||1||6||4||7||3||3||3||4||4||7||5|
|RE Commercial air transport||0||0||1||0||0||0||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
The number of these cases increased clearly compared to the year before (64), ending the decreasing trend of runway incursions which had continued since 2016. This number also exceeds the average for 2013-2018 (64).
One runway incursion was classified as a serious incident. In this situation, a general aviation aircraft landed over a vehicle at the end of the runway with a small height clearance.
In 2019, 79 runway incursions (incidents where an aircraft, a vehicle or a person was incorrectly present on the runway) were reported.
A typical runway incursion in 2019 happened as the aircraft landed on the runway incorrectly in some way, for example while another aircraft or vehicle was still present on it.
The number of runway incursions by aircraft (51) thus increased alarmingly compared to the year before (35) and also clearly exceeded the average for 2013-2018 (41.3).
Increases from the year before were recorded particularly at Helsinki-Vantaa (5 cases in 2018 vs 12 cases in 2019) and Malmi (3 cases in 2018 vs 11 cases in 2019).
Foreign and Finnish commercial air transport operators were both equally often involved in the cases at Helsinki-Vantaa airport. Some cases involved failing to stop at holding position markings or stopbar lights. In five cases, however, an aircraft either approached for landing or took off without ATC clearance. The Safety Investigation Authority completed in December its investigation of a case which occurred at Helsinki-Vantaa airport in early 2019 (an Irish aircraft in commercial air transport came in for landing while a Turkish craft, which had landed before it, had not fully exited the runway).
The runway incursions at Malmi airport occurred in general and recreational aviation.
A runway incursion is defined as any situation where an aircraft, vehicle or person is present on the runway or its protected area, without clearance or otherwise incorrectly. Malmi is an uncontrolled airport. It has no air traffic control that would give aircraft clearance to enter the runway. Situations at uncontrolled airports have also been classified as runway incursions, when the conclusion is that another aircraft had otherwise entered the runway incorrectly (including misjudging the location of an incoming aircraft).
In a typical situation at Malmi, an aircraft was in the final stages of landing when another aircraft taxied onto the runway, forcing the approaching aircraft to abort the landing.
Compared to a few previous years, runway incursions were more often caused by general aviation aircraft. Over the long term, however, the number of occurrences caused by general aviation has not been significantly higher.
The number of runway incursions caused by military aviation also increased significantly in 2019 compared to 2018. On the other hand, their number was low in 2018. All runway incursions in military aviation occurred at controlled airports, usually in Jyväskylä or Rovaniemi. In most cases, a taxiing aircraft crossed the runway holding position markings without clearance for one reason or another. The level of seriousness of these cases was typically low.
The number of runway incursions caused by ground vehicles and persons (26) increased slightly compared to 2018 (19) and exceeded the longer-term average (16.2). While the safety performance was good in this respect in 2019, more frequent than usual runway incursions caused by vehicles occurred in its last few months.
The number of runway incursions with ATC contribution (6), on the other hand, decreased compared to 2018 (10) and was on par with the longer-term average (5.5).
|Commercial air transport||0||0||1||3||4||8||8||10||8||10||2||2||3||9||9||9|
|Vehicles and persons||24||17||24||11||21||28||26||19||26|
|Foreign commercial air transport||13||10||2||3||5||4||2||3||6|
|Other (foreign general and recreational aviation, unidentified)||13||10||2||3||5||4||2||1||3|
|Air Navigation Services contribution||5||2||7||6||1||10||6|
Traficom’s work to reduce runway incursions
Traficom has published a number of safety bulletins concerning runway incursions over the years.
In 2013, an information letter was sent to all aviation licence holders, and in November 2018, a safety bulletin was published, which reminded the operators about typical cases of runway incursions. A safety bulletin published in October 2019 discussed the events of summer 2019, including runway incursions. The bulletins also contain useful tips for avoiding runway incursions.
The European Plan for Prevention of Runway Incursions (EAPPRI) was updated by the European aviation organisations in late 2017. EAPPRI contains numerous recommendations, and all parties should thus go through this document and attempt to implement its recommendations as far as possible. Traficom conducted a survey on the status of implementing the recommendations in Finland in September 2018.
A mid-air collision between aircraft would be a highly exceptional occurrence, and none were recorded last year, either. On the other hand, 82 Airprox incidents that occurred in Finland or involved Finnish aircraft were reported.
This represents a clear increase compared to the 71 cases in 2018 and also by far exceeded the average for 2013-2018 (49). Eight of the cases were classified as serious incidents, which means that the number of particularly serious incidents went down slightly year on year. In 2018, 11 events were classified as serious incidents. However, the number of serious incidents clearly exceeded the average for 2013-2018 (5.3). In six of these cases, the parties were a drone and an aircraft in commercial air transport; in one, two gliders; and in one case, military aircraft and a general aviation aircraft.
Finnish commercial air transport was a party to 42 Airprox incidents in total during the year. This number is clearly higher than in 2018 and also exceeds the average for 2013-2018. The most significant reason for the increase in the number of these situations is the growth in drone operations. In 2019, drones and commercial air transport aircraft were involved in Airprox incidents more or less as frequently as in the year before, in which 24 of such incidents were recorded. Most of these situations occurred in the vicinity of Helsinki-Vantaa airport.
In addition to Airprox incidents with drones, aircraft in commercial air transport were party to infringements of a separation minimum between manned aircraft slightly more often than in previous years, both in Finland and abroad.
The number of Airprox incidents in general aviation was higher than in the year before and more than double the average for 2013-2018. On the other hand, the number of these cases in recreational aviation was clearly lower than in 2018.
Most of the cases occurred at Malmi airport. The cases at Malmi typically were situations were general or recreational aviation aircraft had to perform an evasive manoeuvre on the landing circuit. Based on the reports, in quite a few cases one of the aircraft had failed to announce their intentions on the radio, or they had been misunderstood.
A few near misses were also reported from Spain, where the parties involved had been Finnish training aircraft and local aviators.
While the number of infringements of a separation minimum with ATC contribution was slightly higher in 2019 than in the year before, this figure remained at the same level as the average for 2013-2018 (19.5).
The reduced number of airspace infringements last year was a positive trend. An airspace infringement refers to a situation where an aircraft enters a controlled or restricted airspace or an ADIZ without appropriate clearance or permission. Whereas this situation does not inevitably cause an Airprox incident if no other aircraft is found in the vicinity, it increases the potential for such incidents. A total of 133 airspace infringements was reported. In 2018, there were 176 cases, and the average for 2013-2018 is 162.
In particular, the number of airspace infringements caused by general and recreationalaviation was reduced.
While drone operations have been the most significant factor in the increased number of near misses, this year their growth appears to have stopped. During the year, 22 Airprox incidents caused by a drone were reported (of which 15 in Finland), whereas the year before, this number was 27 (of which 23 in Finland).
|MAC/Airprox recreational aviation||0||1||6||3||2||3||2||4||5||9||2||5||6||8||12||6|
|MAC/Airprox general aviation||0||8||13||10||17||9||9||13||14||12||9||15||10||23||33||42|
|MAC/Airprox commercial air transport||4||11||23||39||31||23||21||24||19||25||23||31||26||26||34||47|
|MAC/Airprox state aviation||8||5||12||12||13||13||31||18||11|
|MAC/Airprox foreign commercial air transport||6||7||17||5||17||10||3||5||11|
|MAC/Airprox other (drones in Finland, unidentified, foreign general and recreational aviation)||4||0||3||1||11||6||10||24||18|
Traficom’s work to reduce near misses
Drone operators have been informed of the rules applicable to them on different channels.
EU rules on drone operations will enter into force in July 2020. These rules require all operators to complete a specific training package. It is believed that this will contribute to improving the safety of drone operations. Read more about the new Regulation here.
Drone operators should remember Traficom’s Droneinfo site, where you can find the most recent information about the rules applicable to operating drones and download the Droneinfo application onto a mobile device. On Droneinfo, you can check if drone operation is allowed at your planned location and find out the greatest permitted height.
NB. Collisions and near misses are monitored as total numbers of cases and in terms of the parties involved in the incidents. Consequently, the figures in the graphs for total numbers and ‘parties involved’ are not the same. The figures in the ‘parties involved’ graph only include situations that occurred in Finland for the part of drones.
In 2019, nine cases were classified as CFIT. This is clearly more than the average for 2013-2018 (6.2) and almost double the number of cases in 2018.
These situations mainly occurred in recreational aviation and drone operations. Three out of the four situations reported in sport aviation were classified as accidents. Two of them occurred in glider operations as a glider collided with obstacles in an off-field landing, and one took place as an ultra-light aircraft collided with some trees on the edge of the runway when taking off.
Three situations classified as CFIT took place in drone operations, which is on par with the figure for 2018. If these unmanned aviation incidents are excluded, the total number of cases is comparable to the average for 2013-2018.
|Commercial air transport||1||2||1||3|
In 2019, 21 cases of loss of control in flight were reported. This number was slightly lower than in 2018 (31) but clearly higher than the average for 2013-2018 (13.7). As in the previous year, the growth in the total number is explained by situations that occurred in drone operations (14). However, the number of reported drone incidents dropped in comparison to 2018 (22).
In commercial air transport, LOC-I cases are rare, and not a single one was reported last year.
In general and recreational aviation, there were seven LOC-I situations, of which four were classified as accidents. Three of these occurred in recreational aviation, and a life was lost in one of the cases. One case was classified as a serious incident. These figures are on par with the accident and serious incident numbers of previous years.
The Safety Investigation Authority launched an investigation of a situation at Tampere-Pirkkala airport which occurred in July and in which a student pilot’s life was lost, as well as of a situation that occurred in Eura in September. In both cases, a student pilot was flying an ultra-light aircraft, and according to the initial information, control was lost during take-off.
If we exclude cases that occurred in drone operations, the number of LOC-I cases in manned aviation was slightly lower (8) than in 2018 (10) and similar to the average for 2013-2018 (8.4).
Many of the cases involving drones resulted in the loss of the drone. However, the number of these cases was slightly lower than in the year before. The most common reason for loss of control was technical faults, including loss of radio link, or the pilot’s steering error.
The RPAS newsletter published by Traficom in the summer discusses the reasons for these events and the lessons learned from them at greater length. Droneinfo.fi is also a good source of information.
|LOC-I Recreational aviation||2||2||2||3||1||5||2||8||8||12||2||5||3||2||3||3|
|LOC-I General aviation||2||4||0||2||1||3||1||1||8||5||2||2||1||3||4||4|
|LOC-I Commercial air transport||1||1||0||0||6||1||1||0||2||0||0||0||0||0||2||0|
In 2019, one collision was reported while an aircraft was taxiing to or from the runway or the area used for taking off or landing. This number is significantly lower than in the year before (5) and also less than the average for 2013-2018 (2.5). In this case, the propeller of a general aviation aircraft hit the ground while taxiing.
At airports, aircraft often need to reverse from the gate before they can start taxiing towards the runway. For this, either the aircraft’s engines or a pushback tractor is used.
Last year, 90 incidents in which pushback was disrupted were reported in Finland. This is more than twice the average for 2013-2018 (42.8).
Almost all of these cases occurred at Helsinki-Vantaa airport.
Typically, a bus or another vehicle crossed behind the aircraft, and the pushback had to be interrupted. These situations may contribute to a collision. This is why it is important that both vehicles operating in the apron area and the aircraft comply with the airport’s right-of-way rules.
|GCOL recreational aviation||1||1||4||3||3||1||0||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||2||0|
|GCOL general aviation||1||1||4||1||1||0||1||1||0||1||0||0||4||1||1||1|
|GCOL commercial air transport||3||1||2||1||2||2||3||0||1||0||1||0||1||0||1||0|
Laser interference with aircraft and helicopters is a continuous risk factor in air traffic. Laser beams can interfere with the pilot’s vision in critical flight stages, including take-off and landing, or when flying at low altitudes. Laser pointers disrupt the pilot's concentration and interfere with their vision, including temporary loss or blurring of sight and even permanent damage to the retina.
Cases of laser interference
In 2019, 32 laser interference cases were reported (14 in Finland and 18 in other countries), which is significantly below the average for 2013-2018 (53.7).
Traficom published a safety bulletin about laser interference, which reminded the readers of its dangers, in September 2019. The bulletin also discussed the first sentence imposed by a court for laser interference.
The case numbers have dropped since 2015, which was the peak year of the decade (74 cases). The case numbers tend to go up especially as the dark season approaches. Typically, laser interference is reported in the vicinity of Helsinki-Vantaa airport, and two cases out of three occur as an aircraft is approaching.
While no aviation accidents caused by laser pointers have been reported, incidents have been reported around the world. The increase in laser interference is partly due to technological advancement and partly to pure ignorance. The number of cases in Finland has been low compared to other countries, and the trend has also been declining in recent years.
Hand-held laser pointers are inexpensive and easily accessible, and many people thus treat them as toys. One milliwatt is the highest permissible output of an individual laser pointer in Finland. An audio-visual equipment package may have a laser pointer with the maximum output of 5 milliwatts. If a pointer of this type has a green beam, it may interfere with pilots from a distance of up to three kilometres. With 125 mW lasers, this range may extend to up to 18 kilometres. The human eye is more sensitive to green light than to red or blue light.
Pointing a laser towards an aircraft is punishable
Pointing a laser towards the crew in an aircraft cockpit is punishable even if no actual damage or concrete danger has been caused to the aircraft, its crew or its passengers.
If, for example, the beam hits a crew member in the eye at a critical stage of the flight, such as during take-off or landing, dazzling the pilot or even partly blinding them, a serious dangerous situation may develop. This may constitute an offence titled ‘imperilment’ or, in some cases, ‘criminal traffic mischief’ or ‘negligent endangerment’.
If the use of a laser pointer causes actual damage, the situation would naturally be assessed quite differently. In that case, all Criminal Code provisions which safeguard human life and health, including those on negligent bodily injury and negligent homicide, would be applicable. The person who caused the damage would of course also be liable for significant financial losses.
The first court sentences for laser interference have also been passed in Finland. The Lapland District Court sentenced to a fine a man who had interfered with a medical helicopter with a strong laser pointer. The helicopter pilot had lost their sight for a moment. The incident occurred in Rovaniemi on New Year's Day 2017. In its sentence, the court found the man guilty of causing a serious traffic hazard, thus putting aviation safety at risk.
|Punishable act||Potential punishment||Consequences of the act; danger or damage caused|
Sections 159 and 178 of the Aviation Act
|a fine||– a violation of the Aviation Act
– causing danger or damage is not a requirement
|Interfering with traffic
Chapter 23, section 11a of the Criminal Code
|ranges from a fine to imprisonment for 6 months||– the act disrupts traffic, for example a flight is delayed|
|Causing a traffic hazard
Section 159 of the Aviation Act and Chapter 23, section 1 of the Criminal Code
|ranges from a fine to imprisonment for 6 months||– the act's potential to put other people's safety at risk is sufficient|
|Criminal traffic mischief
Chapter 34, section 2 of the Criminal Code
4 months to 4 years
|– the act must have put the safety or health of several other people at risk
– an abstract danger is sufficient, no concrete incident is required
Chapter 34, section 7 of the Criminal Code
|ranges from a fine to imprisonment for one year||– the act must have put the safety or health of several other people at risk
– an abstract danger is sufficient, no concrete incident is required
Chapter 21, section 13 of the Criminal Code
|ranges from a fine to imprisonment for two years||– the act poses a concrete risk to other people’s life or health|
|All Criminal Code provisions safeguarding human life and health||the penal sanctions depend on the category of offence
liability for financial losses
|– other people incur actual losses as a result of the act|
ACAS (Airborne Collision Avoidance System) refers to a system which warns pilots of the threat of collision and which meets the requirements for ACAS II systems set out in Appendix 10, Volume IV Chapter 4 (version 7) of the Convention on International Civil Aviation. This system relies on information exchanges between aircraft transponders, based on which pilots are given advisories and alerts of the presence of other aircraft nearby. A system that meets the ACAS II requirements is known as a TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System). The system issues either Traffic Advisories (TA) or Resolution Advisories (RA).
A CFIT/near CFIT situation (Controlled flight into or towards terrain, CFIT) is a situation where an airworthy aircraft under the complete control of the pilot is inadvertently flown (or nearly flown) into terrain, water or an obstacle.
Recreational aviation refers to the operation of a glider, motor glider, ultra-light aircraft, autogyro and hot-air balloon, hang gliding and paragliding, as well as parachuting. NB. If a hot air balloon is used to transport passengers against a fee, this constitutes commercial air transport. This publication does not deal with hang gliding, paragliding or parachuting.
Loss of control in flight (LOC-I) means a situation where the pilot loses control of an airborne aircraft, resulting in a significant deviation from the aircraft’s intended flight path. The loss of control may be total or momentary and caused by such factors as human error, mechanical faults or external factors.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is a civil aviation organisation operating under the auspices of the United Nations.
Commercial air transport refers to using aircraft for transporting passengers, cargo or mail against payment or other compensation.
Runway excursion (RE) refers to uncontrolled exit by an aircraft from a runway during take-off or landing. This may be unintentional or intentional, for instance as the result of an evasive manoeuvre.
Runway incursion (RI-VAP) is any situation where an aircraft, vehicle or person is present on the runway or its protected area, without clearance or otherwise incorrectly. This includes low approaches executed without clearance or otherwise incorrectly.
An accident refers to an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which, in the case of a manned aircraft, takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight until such time as all such persons have disembarked, or in the case of an unmanned aircraft, takes place between the time the aircraft is ready to move with the purpose of flight until such time it comes to rest at the end of the flight and the primary propulsion system is shut down, in which
a) a person is fatally or seriously injured as a result of
• being in the aircraft, or
• direct contact with any part of the aircraft, including parts which have become detached from the aircraft, or,
• direct exposure to jet blast,
except when the injuries are from natural causes, self-inflicted or inflicted by other persons, or when the injuries are to stowaways hiding outside the areas normally available to the passengers and crew; or
b) the aircraft sustains damage or structural failure which adversely affects the structural strength, performance or flight characteristics of the aircraft, and would normally require major repair or replacement of the affected component, except for engine failure or damage, when the damage is limited to a single engine, (including its cowlings or accessories), to propellers, wing tips, antennas, probes, vanes, tires, brakes, wheels, fairings, panels, landing gear doors, windscreens, the aircraft skin (such as small dents or puncture holes) or minor damages to main rotor blades, tail rotor blades, landing gear, and those resulting from hail or bird strike, (including holes in the radome);
c) the aircraft is missing or is completely inaccessible.
A serious injury means an injury which is sustained by a person in an accident and which involves one of the following:
a) hospitalisation for more than 48 hours, commencing within 7 days from the date the injury was received;
b) a fracture of any bone (except simple fractures of fingers, toes, or nose);
c) lacerations which cause severe haemorrhage, nerve, muscle or tendon damage;
d) injury to any internal organ;
e) second or third degree burns, or any burns affecting
more than 5% of the body surface;
f) verified exposure to infectious substances or harmful radiation.
Foreign commercial air transport means the transport of passengers, cargo or mail against payment or other compensation using other than a Finnish aircraft, or under an operating licence not issued in Finland.
A serious incident means an incident involving circumstances indicating that there was a high probability of an accident and is associated with the operation of an aircraft, which in the case of a manned aircraft, takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight until such time as all such persons have disembarked, or in the case of an unmanned aircraft, takes place between the time the aircraft is ready to move with the purpose of flight until such time it comes to rest at the end of the flight and the primary propulsion system is shut down. A list of examples of serious incidents is set out in the Annex to Regulation 996/2010 (EU).
A mid-air collision (MAC) and a near miss/AIRPROX is a situation where airborne aircraft come into contact with one another or in which the distance between aircraft as well as their relative positions and speed have been such that the safety of the aircraft involved may have been compromised.
A ground collision while taxiing to or from a runway in use (Ground collision, GCOL) is a situation where an aircraft comes into contact with another aircraft, a vehicle, a person, an animal, a structure, a building or any other obstacle while moving under its own power in any part of the airport other than the active runway, excluding power pushback.
General aviation refers to all other domains of aviation apart from commercial air transport and aerial work. NB. In this publication, general aviation and aerial work are dealt with as a single category. Recreational aviation is also handled as a separate category.