Aviation safety today is about looking ahead. The aviation community has moved away from the “forensic” approach of making safety improvements based solely on accident investigations to a proactive strategy that incorporates a mix of actual flight data, data from other government agencies, and voluntarily submitted information from airline employees. Voluntary reporting programs have significantly contributed to the nation’s impressive safety record, including improvements to training as well as enhanced operational and maintenance procedures.
The Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) system uses aggregate, protected data from industry and government voluntary reporting programs, without identifying the source of the data, to proactively find safety issues, identify safety enhancements, and measure the effectiveness of solutions. ASIAS began in 2007 and now has 44 members and receives voluntary data representing 95 percent of all commercial air carrier operations. It connects 131 data and information sources across the industry and is integrated into the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) process.
Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP)
ASAP encourages air carrier and repair station employees to voluntarily report safety information that may be critical to identifying potential precursors to accidents. Under ASAP, safety issues are resolved through corrective action rather than through punishment or discipline. An ASAP is based on a safety partnership that includes the FAA and the certificate holder, and usually includes a third party, such as the employee's labor organization. Today, 98 operators have 231 programs covering pilots, mechanics, flight attendants, and dispatchers.
Air Traffic Safety Action Program (ATSAP)
ATSAP is an agreement between the FAA, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), and the National Association of Government Employees (NAGE) that fosters a voluntary, cooperative, non-punitive environment for FAA air traffic employees to openly report safety concerns. By Order, all personnel providing or directly supporting air traffic services are covered, including management. A related Confidential Information Sharing Program (CISP) integrates voluntary safety information self-reported by pilots and air traffic controllers. This data-sharing program gives the FAA a more complete picture of the national airspace system by collecting, assessing and reviewing safety events from the perspective of both pilots and air traffic controllers.
Technical Operations Safety Action Program (T-SAP)
T-SAP is an agreement between the FAA and the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) that allows technicians represented by PASS and other non-bargaining unit Technical Operations employees the opportunity to report potential safety hazards voluntarily and confidentially. Still a demonstration program, T-SAP is available to employees in the Central Service Area. Plans are underway for national expansion.
Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA)
FOQA collects and analyzes digital flight data generated during normal operations. These programs provide greater insight into the total flight operations environment. FOQA data is unique because it can provide objective information that is not available through other methods. The information and insights provided by FOQA can improve safety by significantly enhancing training effectiveness, operational procedures, maintenance and engineering procedures, and air traffic control procedures. Fifty U.S. operators currently have FAA-approved FOQA programs.
Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Program (VDRP)
VDRP provides incentives for an air carrier, repair station, qualified fractional ownership program, Production Approval Holder, or other eligible FAA-regulated entity to voluntarily identify, report, and correct instances of regulatory noncompliance. The program allows the FAA to oversee and participate in the root-case analysis of the events leading to the violations. The FAA reviews, approves, and oversees corrective actions and conducts follow-up surveillance. The agency accepts the voluntary disclosure, foregoes legal enforcement action, and protects the public release of qualifying disclosures and corrective actions when all of the following criteria are met:
- The certificate holder, qualified fractional ownership program, or PAH notifies the FAA of the apparent violation immediately after detecting it and before the agency learns of it by other means.
- The apparent violation is inadvertent.
- The apparent violation does not indicate a lack, or reasonable question, of qualification of the certificate holder, qualified fractional ownshership program, or PAH.
- Immediate action, satisfactory to the FAA, is taken upon discovery to terminate the conduct that resulted in the apparent violation.
- The certificate holder, qualified fractional ownership program, or PAH has developed or is developing a comprehensive fix and schedule of implementation that is satisfactory to the FAA. The fix must include a follow-up self-audit, in addition to any FAA audits.