Safety management: a necessity

In the second half of the 1970's and following a series of aircraft collisions (Zagreb in 1976 and Tenerife in 1977), there was a concern on a worldwide basis that air transport safety needed improvement.

In 1979, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) published a manual destined to pilots, but it turned out to be also valid for many other sectors in air transport, including the Air Navigation Services Providers.


Some economic and environmental pressures strongly affect all components of air transport: traffic growth, airspace extension, increase of airport and airspace capacity as well as reduction of costs and delays.

The provision of air traffic services is not a competitive business, but it operates indeed in a competitive environment. Economic pressures from customers (airlines and airports) to reduce delays and costs and at the same time to increase capacity, may influence safety.


Air traffic growth is a reality. It has a direct impact on airspace management that becomes more and more complex. This evolution had to be absolutely dealt with and responses had to be found as far as safety is concerned. If the accident rate (that dropped between 1960 and 1985) remains the same in the next years (i.e. if nothing is done to increase safety) and the number of flights raises, the number of accidents would indeed increase in a similar way.

Air traffic in 1989 (left) and in 2004 (right). Source: Eurocontrol

In order to anticipate this expected growth, to increase air traffic safety and to minimize risks strongly, Eurocontrol and other international organisations underlined the need for a safety management system that tackles safety on a proactive, systematic and formalised way. On the basis of thorough investigations, Eurocontrol developed regulations, the ESARRs, integrated as from now into the Common Requirements, which ensure a harmonised approach, an orientation and a procedure for the implementation of efficient solutions. Belgocontrol is committed to strictly adhere to these regulations.

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