Responsibility for controlling in aviation safety is assigned by DETEC to the Safety Office. The Safety Office advises the Department on all matters relating to aviation safety policy and exercises controlling over the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA).
The tasks of the Safety Office are based on a corresponding directive from the head of Department and on the performance specifications set out by the Department's General Secretariat (GS-DETEC), the basis of which was the report of the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR).
The key tasks include:
- Preparation of aviation expertise at department level
- Further development and implementation of national aviation safety poloicy
- Controlling over the FOCA in matters of aviation safety
- Decisions on implementation of safety recommendations by means of binding project assignments for the FOCA
In 2003, the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR) published a study entitled "Aviation Safety Management in Switzerland ". The study had been commissioned by the Confederation in the aftermath of a series of breakdowns in the Swiss aviation system.
Among other things, this study recommended that the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) should introduce specialised aviation knowledge at Department level and strengthen its supervision over the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA). A central part of the latter recommendation was the suggestion that responsibility for the implementation of the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau's (AAIB, today STSB) safety recommendations should be transferred from FOCA to a newly established office at Department level.
In line with the recommendations of the NLR study, the Civil Aviation Safety Office (CASO) was established in 2004 by the head of DETEC and assigned to the DETEC General Secretariat.
The tasks of the Safety Office are discharged by the Safety officer and his deputy.
They are in close contact with FOCA, the STSB and the aviation industry. Contacts with companies are particularly useful in the early detection of developments and weaknesses in the area of aviation safety.
The role of FOCA as regulator and supervisory authority is not in any way affected by this. Assignments established by the Safety Office are submitted to the DETEC General Secretariat which allocates the assignments to FOCA in its capacity as the higher authority.
Inner control loop: Companies' safety management systems
The companies are responsible for ensuring safe operations. To that end, in-house safety management systems ensure compliance with standards and continual improvement.
Middle control loop: FOCA as regulator and authority
FOCA acts as state regulator for the Swiss civil aviation system. The office adopts international standards, implements them and also encourages companies to apply recommended practices.
Outer control loop: Departmental supervision
Lastly, the DETEC General Secretariat assumes the role of infrastructure regulator in its area of responsibility. In terms of aviation safety, this task has been delegated to the Safety Office.
To provide aviation knowledge at Department level
The Safety Office provides DETEC with specialised knowledge in the area of aviation, at the required time and level, independently of FOCA. By doing so, DETEC's supervision over FOCA can be strengthened.
Controlling of FOCA
Controlling over FOCA with regard to the safety of civil aviation should be applied so that it has a preventive effect. The Safety Office's activities help to set processes in motion and to support FOCA's advancements.
The Safety Office employs four instruments for obtaining information:
- Assessment of information provided on a regular basis
- Monitoring of selected projects and working groups
- Specific technical queries with target date
- Official visits
Responsibility for STSB safety recommendation implementation
Safety recommendations are published as part of investigation reports. They have the objective of rectifying deficiencies in the aviation system.
On the basis of a systematic consultation with the industry and FOCA, the Safety Office decides the form and sequence in which safety recommendations are to be implemented.
Depending on the individual decision, the FOCA is commissioned by the Safety Office with implementation by way of a mandatory project framework, called a Safety Project Directive (SPD), or a Safety Project Recommendation (SPR), is issued.
Safety deficiencies at Zurich Airport FOCA
Safety deficiencies at Zurich Airport FOCA was requested to mitigate safety shortcomings concerning the intersecting runways 16/34 and 10/28, the taxiway system and conflicting go-around procedures.
Helicopter aerial work
FOCA was mandated with projects in areas such as helicopter equipment, pilot duties, sling load handling, ground personnel and crew training.
An SPD was issued covering several safety recommendations concerning swingover procedures, runway incursion avoidance systems and compliance with international standards.
Mountain fields and performance
An SPD was drafted in relation to mountain flying with the aim of enhancing safety by improving decision making competencies of pilots and promoting internet resources.
Cable and obstacle issues
Among other things, FOCA was asked to set up awareness campaigns and implement an obstacle life cycle process.