The WBA... Aviation Safety Around the World
Captain Rob van Eekeren - President, WBA.
Switzerland – 18 December 2016
124 Participants from 31 countries attended the Amsterdam WBA conference. Participants from as far as Australia, China, Singapore, Nepal, India, Russia, the Middle-East, Europe and Central- and North-America shared their expertise during the 5 days conference.
Initially the conference was planned in the Sultanate of Oman, but unfortunately the organizing host had to cancel at the last moment due to lack of funding. Thanks to the extreme willingness of both the Netherlands departments of Defense and Infrastructure / Environment it was possible to proceed with the conference at the same dates, bust at a different location. I would like to make sincere apologies to those affected by the late change.
The organization of a conference at such a short notice was, to put it mildly, very challenging for the WBA Board. As volunteers we worked, next to our normal jobs, around the clock to make it happen. Given these challenges it can be concluded that the Amsterdam conference was a success. The first three days consisted of a great number of 15-minute presentation related to the seven conference topics. Thursday and Friday were used for brainstorm sessions for inputs in the Global Action Plan (GAP). Critics as well as useable suggestions and innovations were discussed and forwarded. It is intended that the chairman of the GAP, Capt Gary Cooke, will incorporate the ideas and reach out to you for helping him to further improve the GAP. The aim is to have a draft ready in the first quarter of 2017.
Next to these brainstorming sessions, the Joined Aviation Authorities Training Organization (JAA TO) organized a wildlife hazard reduction training. Over 50 authorities and organizations recognize the JAA TO. 16 Participants enjoyed the training and took the voluntarily exam. Passing the exam was rewarded with a JAA TO certificate of accomplishment, next to the certificate of attendance. With varying results, everyone passed the exam and are now the first to receive the JAA TO certificate of wildlife hazard reduction specialist.
Another milestone was the official signing of the Memoranda of Understanding with Birdlife International (2.8 million members) and with IFALPA (100,000 members). The MOUs express the intention and commitment of jointly working together to reduce the wildlife strike risk to aviation.
At the conference, it was decided to alter the WBA Constitution Act and Statutes. The main changes are that the WBA will be more a facilitator than a global voice and to provide national bird strike committees (BSC) a much stronger influence in the WBA. It is intended that the WBA facilitates knowledge sharing amongst BSCs and that BSCs will provide asked and non-asked advice.
Are we there yet? A very clear NO. Many factors, among others climate change, effect the numver, presence and migration of wildlife, posing new challenges; regions that did not have a wildlife hazard could face one in the (near) future. This underlines the importance of international, interregional and interdisciplinary working together. Since the wildlife risk for aviation is so complex, is it essential that appropriate authorities, in close cooperation with the aviation sector establishes the As Low As Practicable Achievable level of risk. That will vary per region, country or even per aerodrome.
A list of over 50 action items resulted from the conference; that will get us through the winter. It was warming to see the commitment and level of expertise that the participants of the conference showed to the subject. That is exactly needed to bring the wildlife strike risk reduction to the next phase. Let’s do that together, shall we?