FOQA is a voluntary safety program designed to improve aviation safety through the proactive use of flight‑recorded data. Operators will use these data to identify and correct deficiencies in all areas of flight operations. Properly used, FOQA data can reduce or eliminate safety risks, as well as minimize deviations from regulations. Through access to de-identified aggregate FOQA data, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can identify and analyze national trends and target resources to reduce operational risks in the National Airspace System (NAS), Air Traffic Control (ATC), flight operations, and airport operations. This chapter will define the elements of a FOQA program, the FOQA program approval process, and the role of the principal operations inspectors (POI) and air carrier inspectors in monitoring continuing FOQA operations.

The FAA and the air transportation industry have sought additional means for addressing safety problems and identifying potential safety hazards. Based on the experiences of foreign air carriers, the results of several FAA‑sponsored studies, and input received from government/industry safety forums, the FAA concluded that wide implementation of FOQA programs could have significant potential to reduce air carrier accident rates below current levels. The value of FOQA programs is the early identification of adverse safety trends, which, if uncorrected, could lead to accidents. A key element in FOQA is the application of corrective action and follow-up to ensure that unsafe conditions are effectively remediated.

FOQA is a program for the routine collection and analysis of digital flight data generated during aircraft operations. FOQA programs provide more information about, and 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. A FOQA program can identify operational situations in which there is increased risk, allowing the operator to take early corrective action before that risk results in an incident or accident. FOQA must interface and be coordinated with the operator’s other safety programs, such as the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP), Advanced Qualification Program (AQP), pilot reporting systems, and Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Program (VDRP). The FOQA program is another tool in the operator’s overall operational risk assessment and prevention program. Being proactive in identifying and addressing risk will enhance safety.

Refer to Advisory Circular 120-82 for more information on implementing a FOQA program.