Safety and Services

The safety is the first concern of an Air Traffic Services Provider.  

In 1995 EUROCONTROL started its Air Traffic Services Safety Management programme which obliges all member States to implement a clear and systematic “Safety Management System” (SMS) in their organisations which provide Air Traffic Control services. 

We look after the safety of your flight:

1. Air traffic safety 

NAV Portugal is proud of its Safety record. We want to maintain and improve our standards, providing an efficient, modern and lean air traffic service. With this in mind we have designed systems and programmes to achieve good practices in operational performance.  

Safety is also the most important pillar of air navigation and for this reason we are continually investing – keeping abreast of technological developments - always with the idea of leading the way in terms of innovation and efficiency and thus serving our clients – the aviation companies – as well as possible. 

2. Safety Management Systems

NAV Portugal’s Safety Management System approaches the company’s activities in a systematic way with a view to achieving excellence in the field of safety management. 

In the Air Navigation sector, the SMS - Safety Management System covers all the services, people, infrastructure, equipment, procedures, rules and information supplied to airspace users, in order to ensure the Safety, regular functioning and efficiency of international air navigation.  

Thus the Operational Safety Management System, applied to the Air Traffic Services, is responsible for: 

-The identification, analysis and mitigation of possible risks; 

-Reporting all occurrences in order that they can be investigated and corrective measures taken. 

The company’s Safety and Operational Performance Departments were created specifically to detect any anomalies in the performance of our operating units. The Safety department is responsible for looking after the safety management systems. 

Every day thousands of passenger and cargo planes pass through Portuguese air space. It is essential that each of these flights can travel in safety and so NAV Portugal has adopted its own professional training system which is able to ensure the excellence of each of our professionals.  

NAV Portugal has bought instruments such as aerodrome control simulators, radar simulators, communications and radio-telephone simulators which are indispensable in both initial training and in simulations of emergency situations. Only in this way can we guarantee that which is most important for each of the aircraft which crosses our skies: Flight Safety and Economy.

3. The History of Safety

Air Safety developed along with advances in ground-based aviation control systems and in the aircraft themselves. 

From the beginnings of aviation, engineering inventiveness was used to make the use of aircraft easier and safer.  Initially, flight guidance was done using visual references.  This limited flying to daylight hours.  

The adaptation of the sextant to aviation, following the same guidance principles as used for maritime navigation, started a revolution in aviation, enabling the first air crossing of the Atlantic to be made in 1922.  However, modern aviation only developed fully when it was able to determine aircraft positions from the ground. The invention of radar satisfied this need. 

Today the most effective system and the one used for managing information related to locating objects is satellite navigation. In aviation this high precision self-location system is known as ADS – “Automatic Dependent Surveillance”. In truth, this is much more than just a guidance system.  Satellite technology is responsible for most aspects of flight safety, locating applications, communications and even flight control improvements.  

4. Intelligent Safety Methods and Systems

When in flight, aircraft are detected and interpreted on an Air Traffic Controller’s screen as points of light.  Associated to each point is a set of specific references and variables which allow all flights to be observed continuously and all changes in the situation to be understood.  The radar systems used have been developed to detect false targets and to check any information gaps along the route of any aircraft. 

Today, with the help of intelligent systems developed specifically for air safety, the chances of a mistake occurring are almost nil.  If a radar information failure is reported during a flight – or if there is a loss of target, or the multiplication of mirror targets – help can be requested from other operators and other instruments, transferring all information in real time until the first radar’s values are restored.  It is, however, necessary to be able to deal with system corrections and updates, very often resorting to backup equipment which allows a switch in surveillance instruments without putting air traffic control at risk. 

5. Safety Management System Principles

The Operational Safety Management System is based on ethical and duty-related principles in order to ensure its complete success. There are three aspects which define the nature of these principles: 

a) Safety has top priority inside the Company and is supported by an effective and well-delimited Safety policy; 

b) The main objective of Safety is to minimise the contribution of Air Traffic Management (ATM) services to aircraft accident risk; 

c) All of our employees are responsible for Safety. 

This is the basis on which NAV Portugal’s Operational Safety Management System, which the Company has been developing ever since its foundation, works. 

6. Operational Safety Management Programme


NAV Portugal’s Operational Safety Programme is structured in such a way as to: 

• Guarantee Safety 

• Maintain Safety 

• Promote Safety – initiatives 

• Manage Safety – establishing the conditions for the Programme to be carried out. 

a) Guarantee Safety 

Training is given to NAV Portugal’s employees in their area of activity to ensure there is a permanent Safety Culture. One of NAV Portugal’s main objectives is to make all its employees aware of the consequences of any errors which they might make. Much importance is also placed on the rigorous definition of tasks to avoid overlapping of functions. The safe performance of functions can thus be guaranteed. 

The Analysis and Investigation of occurrences is used, among other reasons, so that in the future actions can be taken and errors avoided. The regular undertaking of Safety Studies ensures that the equipment and people involved function correctly and that any corrective measures which are needed can be assessed at that time.  

It has been by following this policy of “Safety is everybody’s business” that NAV Portugal has built up the successful position which it holds today.

b) Maintain Safety 

Aerial Navigation in Portugal applies practices, routines, procedures, equipment and training actions in which safety requirements are analysed in detail and constantly kept up to date in order to ensure the highest standards of safety performance.   

c) Promote Safety 

For NAV Portugal the promotion of Safety is something we believe we cannot do enough of.  This belief is backed up by the fact that our Safety Manual is always up to date.  

In our day-to-day work we try to build a Safety Culture as opposed to a Blame Culture. 

When there is an occurrence, be it a major or minor one, an investigation and analysis process is set in motion immediately with the sole purpose of identifying the causes, analysing them and then disseminating the lessons obtained so that the same or similar situations do not happen again in the future. 
It is here that the international exchange of information and professional training are of vital importance.

Exchanging experiences is essential for improving our knowledge. Only in this way can people be motivated to constantly improve their performances, relieving the tension associated with the carrying out of this activity. 

NAV Portugal also publishes regularly an internal prevention and safety bulletin based on these experiences. 

d) Manage Safety 

To manage Safety, it is necessary to establish the conditions under which the Safety Programme can work. We know we have to always: 

. Implement and check our Safety policies; 

. Define, promote, maintain and regularly evaluate the Safety Programme; 

. Motivate our employees and raise their awareness with regard to Permanent Safety Management; 

. Establish permanent links to other national and international safety organisations and departments. 

7. International safety awards

NAV Portugal is proud to have been awarded the European Good Practice Award, attributed by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.

Among the 20 European companies who were given awards for the innovative approaches to the prevention of psycho-social risks and stress in the work place, NAV Portugal was given special recognition for its CISM - Critical Incident Stress Management programme. 

The work was prepared by the “DSEGOP” – the Operational Safety Department, more specifically, the Safety and Operational Improvement section (“SEGNA”).