Safety In Numbers For Nextgen
Maintaining and enhancing safety in the National Airspace System (NAS) remains the FAA's top priority as the agency develops and implements NextGen systems and procedures. Safety specialists must define NextGen requirements and solutions, while the agency continues to upgrade the systems and procedures it uses to analyze its safety needs.
The FAA and commercial air carrier partners continued in 2012 to expand the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) system, an exchange that houses large amounts of proprietary airline and internal FAA data, plus data from other aviation-related sources. As of October 2012, ASIAS had individual data and report sharing agreements with 41 commercial air carriers that account for more than 95 percent of commercial operations in the NAS. ASIAS contained 70 databases (up from 65 in 2011), including more than 10 million Flight Operational Quality Assurance recorded flights, 50,836,000 FAA National Offload Program radar and runway radar positional tracks, 110,000 Aviation Safety Action Program reports and more than 44,500 reports submitted voluntarily by controllers and technical operations personnel.
The ASIAS data and analytical tools enable the FAA, NASA and air carriers to conduct safety assessments, develop benchmarks, find emerging system risks, feed system safety modeling projects and confirm that NextGen enhancements are performing as intended. For example, the FAA's Optimization of Airspace and Procedures in the Metroplex teams use ASIAS information to help inform their decisions as they work to design new procedures.
The FAA assesses and manages risks across the NAS. Its Safety Managements System employs safety risk management, safety assurance, safety policy and safety promotion to manage risk rigorously. The FAA is expanding this effort by adding a holistic hazard analysis of interacting systems under a process called Integrated Safety Risk Management. This enhanced approach looks at all elements of an improvement to ensure that the hazards are assessed and mitigations are developed to reduce operational risks across airspace, procedures and systems. This new approach will contribute to the safe implementation and integration of both new and legacy NAS capabilities.
NextGen will enhance safety management via the Operational Analysis and Reporting System (OARS), which will provide an automated environment for analyzing and addressing NAS-wide safety risks and enable users to extract information from multiple databases and systems. With a functioning OARS, the FAA will be able to collect, assimilate, share, analyze and view information to ensure that all NAS users have a consistent view of system safety. OARS will facilitate risk-based decisions and be capable of sharing safety data with the ASIAS platform.
The FAA has access to almost 60,000 volunteer reports under the Air Traffic Safety Action Program (ATSAP) for controllers and the Technical Operations Safety Action Program (T-SAP) submitted by technicians. These reporting programs will provide critical feedback to new NextGen operational improvements and increase NAS safety performance. The FAA has also completed a Strategic Training Needs Assessment that identifies impacts to terminal and en route air traffic control job tasks associated with NextGen operational improvements identified in this Implementation Plan. Training for controllers and technicians will continue to evolve to meet the implementation of NextGen operational improvements.
ATSAP, T-SAP and much of the data in the ASIAS system are reported voluntarily by controllers, technicians, pilots, airlines and other aviation stakeholders. To protect the identity of sources, such data are combined so that people who analyze them cannot infer the individuals or companies involved in any single incident. Procedures like these assure participation in data systems that are essential to modern, proactive approaches to safe operations and accident prevention.