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Air Navigation Services

Under international treaties, such as the Chicago Convention, the safety regulation of civil aviation is a national responsibility. Every state has complete and exclusive sovereignty over airspace above its territory.

Each state signatory of the Chicago Convention is responsible for ensuring safety and undertakes to keep its own safety regulations, its air navigation equipment and operations compliant with those established by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) under the Chicago Convention.

The operation of safety-related air traffic industries within, or on behalf of, States must be on the basis of achieving levels of safety which are both publicly and politically acceptable and this has to be demonstrated to all parties.

In Ireland the responsibility for the safety of Air Navigation Services (ANS) is addressed mainly in terms of two prime safety functions:

  • ATM Safety Management - the prime responsibility for the safety of an ATM service lies with the provider of the service;
  • ANS Safety Regulation - it is the responsibility of the state to ensure that all ANS provided are tolerably safe. This function is carried out by the Air Navigation Services Division (ANSD) of the Irish Aviation Authority's Safety Regulation Division in the interest of public safety.

The EC Regulation 549 /2004 ‘The Framework Regulation (Article 4) mandates that each State establish a National Supervisory Authority (NSA) with responsibilities for the supervision of Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs). The Safety Regulation Division of the IAA has been nominated as the National Supervisory Authority for Ireland.

Safety Policy Statement

It is the policy of the Air Navigation Services Division:

  • To ensure that high safety standards are set and achieved in the provision of Air Navigation Services;
  • To promote continuous safety improvement.

Objective of Safety Regulation

The objective of Safety Regulation in ANS is to improve safety levels by ensuring that the numbers of ANS induced accidents, and of serious or risk-bearing incidents, do not increase and where possible decrease.

Regulatory Principles

Safety regulation is founded on a number of concepts that may be summarised as follows:

  • An ANS regulatory function, independent of the service provider, shall monitor safety standards. Safety regulation shall be organisationally separate from the planning, implementation and provision of ANS.
  • ANSD shall set and oversee regulatory requirements in the interests of the safety of ANS.
  • Safety regulatory requirements shall be neither unduly prescriptive nor prevent innovation.
  • Safety regulation shall allow for alternative means of compliance with safety regulatory requirements where equivalent safety assurance is provided.
  • The relationship between regulator and service provider should be that of a partnership set up to achieve a common safety goal.
  • Regulatory intervention shall be kept to the minimum practical level consistent with effective safety regulation.

Methods of Regulation

Regulation shall be carried out on all safety-related aspects of the systems under the control of the Service Provider. This regulation shall be achieved principally by rulemaking and oversight.


Rulemaking is the process by which safety objectives and requirements are set. It consists of the definition of applicable requirements and associated standards and practices to ensure that both national minimum levels of safety and regulatory provisions that result from international commitments are observed.

Safety Oversight

Oversight may be defined as the function undertaken by a designated authority to verify that safety regulatory objectives and requirements are effectively met.

Standards to be used by ATM Service Providers

  • ICAO Annex 10;
  • ICAO Annex 11;
  • ICAO Annex 15;
  • ICAO Annex 12;
  • Other relevant ICAO documents and International standards and requirements; Eurocontrol Safety Regulation Requirements;
  • Other related European Union legislation.

Legal Basis for Regulation

The IAA Safety Regulation Division's Air Navigation Services Department is the independent regulatory authority for ANS safety regulation as designated by the Irish Aviation Authority.

Regulatory authority is derived from: