Managing the safety and security of flight operations

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 and thus to continuously and actively improve the safety of flight operations.

The safe operation of aircraft and the operational readiness of infrastructure and systems are of key importance to airports.

Drones: a possible danger to flight operations

Unmanned aircraft systems (drones) are currently invisible to air traffic control and therefore 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 2020, Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH (DFS), in close cooperation with Munich Airport, tested drone detection systems at FMG on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Transport. These tests provided insight into the current state of the technology, particularly with regard to the possible detection range and the general performance of the systems available on the market. Based on the findings, DFS developed concepts for the technical and procedural approach to drone detection at German airports and is now planning the path forward.

Bird protection (photo)
FMG reconciles flight operations and bird protection.

Biotope management provides protection from bird strikes

Collisions between aircraft and heavyweight birds or flocks of birds can endanger the safety of flight operations. Munich Airport uses special biotope management to prevent possible collisions:

  • The nutrient-poor meadows are mowed only twice a year. The long grass makes it difficult for predatory birds to find prey. Swarming birds, in turn, avoid these areas because of the lack of visual contact with each other.
  • 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.
  • The wildlife management team at the traffic control department monitors the bird population at 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 DAVVL (the German Bird Strike Committee). DAVVL statistics have shown a comparatively low wildlife strike rate for Munich Airport for many years. In 2021, it was around 76 percent higher on average in Germany than at the Munich airport site (Area 1).

Wildlife strike-rates1)

Wildlife strike-rates (line chart)
1) Number of wildlife strike reports for aircraft per 10,000 aircraft movements. Due to changes in the reporting regulations, it is not only bird strikes, but all wildlife strikes, that must be reported. (Source: DAVVL (German Bird Strike Committee); as of: March 2022)
Area 1: Take-off 0–500 feet above ground; landing 200–0 feet above ground
Area 2: Take-off 501–1,500 feet above ground; landing 1,000–201 feet above ground

Flood protection

The existing watercourse system protects Munich Airport from flood runoff, which occurs on average once every hundred years. In recent years, it has rained more frequently in flash floods – sometimes with devastating effects. This development prompted Munich Airport to review its flood protection. An initial study in 2019 showed that Munich Airport is well protected from extreme flooding from the south, even during flash floods. In a second step, the performance of the drainage system within the airport during heavy precipitation will be put to the test in 2022. The focus is on the safe operation of the instrument landing systems in the area of the runway heads and possible flooding on the operating site. In particular, the aprons as well as the channels and stormwater detention facilities will be integrated into the 2019 flood model for this purpose. Where necessary, appropriate flood protection measures will be developed.

The Munich Water Management Office had the Isar river remeasured and flood discharges calculated in 2019. They show that the existing flood protection dikes along the Isar River in the airport’s sphere of influence can also hold back extreme flooding.

End of 2022: Evaluate impacts of heavy precipitation

European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)
The European Aviation Safety Agency is the European Union’s flight safety body for civil aviation and is based in Cologne.

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