Switzerland: Air traffic surveillance criticized by the CDF – Switzerland

Governance and oversight of air traffic safety management could be improved in Switzerland. An audit of the Federal Financial Control (CDF) reveals problems of communication and responsibility between the supervisory authority and the bodies inspected.

The report published Wednesday by the CDF dissects the monitoring of air traffic management. In the area of ​​infrastructure safety, this is the responsibility of the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (OFAC), responsible for controlling the two national airports, eight regional aerodromes and three air navigation service providers (skyguide , MeteoSwiss and Engadin Airport).

Divergences exist between the supervisory authority and the supervised bodies. Various interlocutors pointed out to the CDF that there was a gap between the qualifications of OFAC inspectors in the area of ​​infrastructure and those of their counterparts at skyguide.

In this context, OFAC inspectors would find it difficult to impose their decisions. Employees of the supervised authorities would question them. However, audits by independent bodies have not confirmed these problems, notes the CDF.

Criticized assessment

Risk assessment is also controversial. It can be improved, according to the CDF. Aviation safety system operators should make a risk assessment for surveillance if their systems are changed. This assessment is based on a framework which is also subject to the approval of the FOCA, which is not always followed.

The problem stems from the fact that OFAC has only limited means of sanctioning operators in a monopoly situation. Thus, if it decided to withdraw authorizations or certificates from skyguide, Swiss air traffic would be severely disrupted.

The audit also highlighted a mistrust of the staff towards the general management and signs of sexual and moral harassment. These findings emerge from a survey carried out in 2017. Measures have been taken against sexual harassment. But the cases of moral harassment went unanswered.

The CDF recommends that the FOCA conduct a further investigation when it obtains such information in the future. The procedure to be applied in this case has yet to be defined. The CDF also recommends that the OFAC define a procedure regulating the involvement of teams of inspectors in the event of recourse to higher hierarchical levels, so that they can better understand the decisions taken.

Risks to assess

The Financial Control also recommends improvements in risk management. The FOCA takes cognizance of the security risks that weigh on the organizations it monitors. However, their assessment may be subject to challenge.

With regard to the acceptance of gifts and invitations and the fight against corruption, the FOCA applies the general requirements set out in the Confederation’s personnel ordinance and those arising from European law. However, Financial Control recommends that he use more stringent rules for inspectors, such as those that apply to personnel responsible for decision-making and purchasing tasks.

The OFAC accepts the majority of the CDF’s recommendations. The office recalls, however, that the European Aviation Safety Agency considers that the quality of the surveillance structure and procedure is satisfactory in Switzerland, as do the skills of the experts.

Each year, nearly 2 million francs in taxes are collected for the surveillance of aviation safety infrastructures. In 2017, liner and charter traffic generated nearly 467,000 movements. (Ps / nxp)

Created: 29.01.2020, 11:02 p.m.

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