The Independent Review of the decision by the CAA to suspend the publicly-owned City of Derry Airport’s licence, during 4-day period in May, has reported back to Derry City Council.. and they’ve issued a press release after passing a resolution – the report
doesn’t seem to be online. is available here[pdf file – thanks jone] There’s a BBC report on the moves here. But watch the short online video report by Mike McKimm [RealPlayer file] which contains the key details; failure of the bird control systems, of take-offs and landings being aborted frequently due to the trains crossing the end of the runway.. and that although officials at the Council knew about the critical safety concerns of the CAA for some time they had not informed the Council Committee which was supposed to ensure “compliance with licensing requirements of the CAA” at the airport.. and, evidentially, neither had the airport management addressed those concerns.The Council’s resolution
The full resolution agreed today by the City of Derry Airport Committee is:
1. In close partnership with the CAA significant progress has been made at City of Derry Airport to ensure that it is now operating at the safest possible level and that the CAA are satisfied with this position.
2. The systematic failure identified by the CAA has been confirmed by the inquiry. Again in conjunction with the CAA we have commissioned a root and branch examination of the Safety Management Systems which includes
a. Physical Characteristics
c. Management and Personnel
3. In the interim we have demanded that all information is brought to City of Derry Airport Committee and we will be appointing a Safety Assurance Officer who will report directly to this committee.
4. Council have now given full delegated powers to the Airport Committee.
5. Where there has been serious failings have taken place appropriate action will be taken through proper procedures.
Whilst the Council’s website notes
Airport Committee – Meets the Thursday after City Marketing Committee
Major Functions – The role of the Airport Committee is to recommend to Council policies and procedures for the safe and efficient operation of the airport ensuring compliance with licensing requirements of the Civil Aviation Authority and Department for Transport.
Adds From the Report’s conclusions.. which jone helpfully pointed me to in the comments zone. [added emphasis throughout]
7.1 The City of Derry Airport has experienced considerable and rapid growth in medium size Jet Aircraft Movements in recent years (39% in 2006). This is associated with an increase in passenger throughput of 70%. The Safety Management System in place at the airport failed to maintain pace with the corresponding growth, in particular with respect to infrastructure, staff resources and competencies.
7.2 The collective number of deficiencies in the SMS noted on a formal visit by the CAA on 16th and 17th May were such that the Civil Aviation Authority believed that a “Systematic Failure of the SMS” had occurred and therefore provisionally suspended the Airport’s License to operate in the interests of public safety. The Surveyor believes that the action of the CAA in suspending the Aerodrome License at CODA was appropriate.
7.3 It is probable that none of the parties involved had previously recognised the extent of the failure although correspondence reviewed between the Regulator (CAA) and the Airport dating back to 2004 (period reviewed) continually refers to a number of deficiencies in the allocation of resources and the operating environment of the Aerodrome.
7.4 When Inspectors from the CAA visited CODA on 16th / 17th May 2007 they believed that the overall number of deficiencies had increased to a level which was unacceptable and that the Safety Management Systems in place at that time were insufficient as they had not alerted the Airport Operator to take immediate action to rectify an increasing number of non-compliant items.
7.5 Whilst Derry City Council and CAA were previously aware of some of the deficiencies and agreed an “Action Plan” for rectification. It was acknowledged that major work was required in order for the Airport to obtain full compliance with UK Aerodrome Licensing requirements (CAP 168). It is however highly unlikely that either party would have known that the time taken to obtain a) approvals for works (including a Judicial Review) and b) European / State Aid funding would be in excess of 5 years.