Arturo Madrigal is aeronautical engineer with 22 years of experience in airport and heliport certification, inspection, and safety management. At SENASA he is Head of the Airports Project and coordinates AESA's assignments on aerodrome and airport safety. In the international area he cooperates with ICAO as Rapporteur/Coordinator of the Heliport Design Working Group (HDWG) and is a member of the Water Aerodromes Working Group (WGWA) and the Joint Task Force of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems and Aerodromes Panels (RPASP/ADOP JTF). He also collaborates with EASA at the Vertiports Task Force (EASA VTF). He imparts international instruction with SENASA and with the ICAO Global Aviation Training (GAT) in SMS.
What is the role of SENASA in airports and heliports safety and how does the company cooperate with the aviation authority in this field?
SENASA currently has 20 professionals with extensive experience in airport and heliport safety, working in support of the Spanish Aviation Safety Agency (AESA), that are divided into two teams: Aerodromes and Airports.
EThe Aerodrome Team carries out for AESA tasks of consulting, certification, authorization, and safety oversight at medium-sized verified public-use airports and small restricted-use aerodromes and heliports. This team includes specialists in aerodromes, heliports, wildfire fighting and pilots. Among the main projects for AESA are the drafting of a new royal decree to refurbish the national regulation of verified airports, and to allow commercial passenger transport operations in restricted use aerodromes and heliports, the writing of technical specifications for water aerodromes and the Plan of Regulation of Aeronautical Infrastructures (PRIA), by which aerodromes and heliports for emergency medical transport and wildfire fighting are being updated to the technical safety standard. AESA is currently responsible for the safety oversight of 230 restricted-use aerodromes and heliports, backed up by SENASA’s technical assistance. With the completion of the PRIA, scheduled for the end of 2023, the number of aerodromes and heliports will increase to 300.
The Airports Team carries out for AESA tasks of consultancy, certification, and safety oversight of public-use large airports, certified under European regulations of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The team includes specialists in runway safety, apron management service, wildlife hazard management, emergency planning and aircraft rescue and firefighting. The Airports Team has supported AESA in the process of certification of the entire Spanish airport network, first under national regulations and later under EASA’s regulations. SENASA also assists AESA in the annual safety oversight plans, the management of changes, the safety management systems (SMS), the analysis and approval of safety assessments, runway safety, wildlife hazard management – with the creation of the National Forum on Aviation and Fauna, the Aviation and Fauna Global Plan and the Fauna Map –, the supervision and coordination of emergency plans, aircraft rescue and firefighting and the apron management service.
Both teams actively cooperate with AESA, EASA and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in national and international consultancy, legislation and aviation training projects, such as the European Commission's Twinnings, EASA's international cooperation programs with civil aviation authorities of neighbouring countries for the promotion of aviation safety, or the recent Cooperation Project between Europe and the Latin America-Caribbean Region (EU-LAC-APP) for the provision of consulting services and safety training.
How does SENASA cooperate with ICAO, EASA and other international organizations?
In the area of airport safety, SENASA has a relevant international impact.
We cooperate with the ICAO Aerodromes and Operations Panel (ADOP) representing AESA as Spanish Civil Aviation Authority in various groups. We lead the Heliport Design Working Group (HDWG) – tasked with maintaining and updating the ICAO regulations and technical guidance on heliports. We also participate in the following working groups: the Joint Task Force of the Aerodromes and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Panels (RPASP/ADOP-JTF) – in charge of the regulation to allow the operation of RPAS in aerodromes and heliports –; the Water Aerodromes Work Group (WGWA) – in charge of developing regulations on water aerodromes –; and the Wildlife Hazard Management Expert Group (WHMEG) – responsible for maintaining and updating ICAO technical guidance on wildlife risk management for aviation.
In addition, we cooperate with EASA in the Vertiports Task Force (VTPTF), which has recently published the Prototype Specifications for Vertiports (PTS) (2022), developing the chapter on visual aids and participating in the editorial team.
We have cooperated with Eurocontrol, holding in 2019 the vice-presidency of the airport group for the development of the European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Excursions (EAPPRE), and its subsequent evolution with ICAO and the Flight Safety Foundation into the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Excursions (GAPPRE, 2021).
What has been the evolution of SENASA in the past 20 years in the field of airports safety?
In 2003 SENASA began to carry out airport safety consulting for the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC), collaborating in the drafting of a royal decree for the certification of airports. In 2005, we began supporting the DGAC in authorization and safety oversight of restricted aerodromes. The team evolved with the incorporation of specialist staff. AESA was established in 2008 and SENASA formed the Airports Team to provide support to the new agency in the process of certification of the Spanish airports. Both Airport and Aerodrome teams continued evolving and incorporating specialists in aerodromes, airports, apron service management, wildlife hazard management, emergency planning, aircraft rescue and firefighting and wildfire fighting. We are currently in the process of hiring five more experts for our teams.
During the last 20 years our teams have gained experience and knowledge and have fulfilled AESA's needs, earning its trust.
What are the national and international challenges we have ahead in support of aviation authorities to improve airport safety?
The most important challenge for SENASA is to keep on supporting AESA and other civil aviation organizations and authorities, securing and strengthening our staff, and incorporating highly qualified specialists to provide the services required by AESA and other organizations in airport safety.
AESA is in process of assuming airport construction projects authorisation competences and will need the gathering of a skilled team. SENASA has been requested to incorporate a new specialist.
In the international scenario the main challenges for SENASA consist of continuing to represent AESA and Spain before ICAO and EASA with the coordination and participation in the aforementioned working groups.
What is SENASA’s position in the development of vertiports for the new vertical take-off and landing aircraft eVTOL?
One of the most important advancements in civil aviation is the introduction of vertical take-off and landing aircraft VTOL and of electric propulsion, along with the creation of the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) concepts. Commercial passenger transport operations with these aircraft, which are currently in the process of being certified by EASA, are expected to begin in 2024 or 2025, on urban and intercity short-distance routes. Hence, the construction of vertiports designed for VTOL aircraft will be needed.
Therefore, one of the fundamental challenges for SENASA will be to continue representing AESA and providing leadership and support to ICAO and EASA in the development of international regulations for new vertiports.
Within the Heliport Design Group (HDWG), of which I am the coordinator/rapporteur, a Vertiport Study Subgroup (VDSG) has been created. The VDSG was presented at the fourth meeting of the ICAO Aerodrome Panel in February 2022 and was launched with the participation of leading industry stakeholders and civil aviation authorities at the 16th HDWG meeting in May 2022. The VDSG awaits its final approval by the ICAO Air Navigation Commission (ANC) in late 2022. It will be then in charge of developing international technical specifications and guidelines for vertiports, under Spanish coordination.
We will also continue to actively support EASA at the Vertiports Task Force (VTPTF), which has published the Prototype Specifications for Vertiports (PTS). This group also faces the task of creating the complete European regulation package for commercial, open to public use vertiports with instrument operations under the scope of EASA.
What is SENASA’s function in the authorization and safety of water aerodrome networks in Spain?
Spain has a 7,900 km long coastline, the Balearic and Canary archipelagos and a climate prone to the development of water aviation. The industry is carrying out already mature projects to implement networks of water aerodromes in the ports to connect the Balearic Islands with each other and with mainland, and the Canary Islands as well. SENASA has developed technical regulations for AESA for the design and operation of water aerodromes, both for public and for restricted use. In addition, SENASA will provide support to AESA in the infrastructure verification/licensing processes.
Given Spain's interest in this type of aviation, AESA is present in the ICAO Water Aerodrome Working Group (WGWA), where SENASA provides support for the development of international technical regulations for the design and operation of water aerodromes.