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The lessons learned from Filomena

Sepla’s Technical Department has prepared an exhaustive dossier with the pilots’ reports about the impact of the January storm at Barajas, with specific proposals for improvement.

April 21st, 2021

Francisco Cruz – Sepla’s Technical Department

The Filomena storm at the beginning of January this year was a huge challenge both for Barajas Airport and for all the groups that operated during those days. Sepla’s Technical Department published in the Fly Safe of January 14th a kind of preliminary dossier with a compilation of the events that took place during those days.

In this preliminary dossier and considering the echo it had in the media as well as the reports from pilots that were reaching the Technical Department’s email, we undertook to prepare a report on what had happened. One of the objectives was to point out the deficiencies detected by the pilots and technical crew members and to send them to the corresponding organizations and authorities, in order to avoid situations like these in the future. As we said when we started to prepare the dossier, at no time was the objective the assignment of blame. What we seek with this report is to learn from mistakes so that they do not happen again, and to always apply best practices. The phases of the error are 4: recognize it, understand it, apply what has been learned… and share it under the umbrella of a just culture.

To get the information, we sent a form via email requesting a report from the pilots who had flown those days. The reporting period was from January 14th to January 26th. During that period, we received 31 reports, of which we analysed 29 (two corresponded to the same flight and 1 had no descriptive information).

Dossier structure

The dossier was prepared from January 26th to March 25th, structuring it in a similar way to that of an air incident. The structure is as follows:

  • background,
  • objectives of the report,
  • methodology,
  • description of the information obtained,
  • analysis of the information,
  • conclusions and safety actions
  • safety suggestions.

Undoubtedly, the most valuable part of the report is the desription of the events experienced by our colleagues. We recommend you to read it in order to share experiences in a special situation such as the one experienced during those days. The description does not include data that could identify both operators and pilots, of course.

The treatment of the information

The description of the obtained information is structured in two parts.

1. Events that occurred until the airport was closed, from Friday, January 7th until Saturday, January 8th, when the rate 0 was set at the airport at 20:00 UTC.

In this first part 14 events have been collected, highlighting among others:

  • Received SNOWTAM information
  • Aircraft access
  • De-icing/anti-icing procedure: Post icing checks, English phraseology, Hold Over Time, etc.
  • TSAT’s

2. Events since the airport was partially opened. In this period, we received a total of 15 events. In this part we highlight points such as:

  • Interpretation of SNOWTAM’s with NOTAM’s of closed roads.
  • Aircraft strikes with snow lines.
  • Inoperative runway edge lights
  • Airport operability and limitation of use, comparing it with what happened at Amsterdam airport. This airport suffered a cold and snow storm in February.
  • Use of runway and apron services to guide aircraft, etc.

The results of your reports are the numerous contacts we have had with both AENA and ENAIRE to solve the problems we encountered in a cooperative atmosphere. One of the first achievements we will see soon will be the implementation of the graphical NOTAM in LEMD. Let us hope that it will not be the last one.

You can consult the full report in the downloadable PDF below.