The Voluntary Safety Reporting Program announced to highlight the agency’s commitment to transparency and respond to congressional prompting seeks to encourage candid communication from FAA workers who oversee airlines, manufacturers, maintenance providers, aviation medical practitioners, and flight crews, the FAA said in a June 21 news release.
“We can never be satisfied with the status quo when it comes to safety, and the free exchange of vital information is a cornerstone of safety and continual improvement,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “We want our employees to know that when they speak up, they can be sure someone is listening.”
The FAA said existing voluntary safety reporting systems have been integral to a 94-percent decrease in the risk of a fatal accident since 1998 “by identifying and resolving issues before an accident occurs.”
Augmenting reporting systems already available, the new program structured jointly by FAA management and leadership of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, a union representing Aviation Safety workers, aims to “encourage the sharing [of] safety information by all parties,” the FAA said.
“The more we can continue to encourage people to report, the more we can influence the safety in the system,” said NATCA President Paul Rinaldi.
An event review team “will leverage subject matter experts to evaluate the safety issue and provide a recommendation on corrective action and will continue to monitor the issue throughout the process,” said Mike Perrone, president of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, a union that represents FAA technical workers.
Most pilots are familiar with the NASA-administered Aviation Safety Reporting System, through which members of the aviation community—often including air traffic controllers and other FAA employees—have filed literally millions of confidential reports since 1976. The success of ASRS has been credited to its incentive of providing exemption from FAA enforcement actions in many instances, as long as a violation of regulations was inadvertent or unintended.
On June 17, AOPA reported on the FAA’s release of a final rule establishing an online Pilot Records Database that included provisions supported by AOPA to protect from public disclosure any information received by the FAA from an Aviation Safety Action Program. The database will be used beginning in August by air carriers and other operators to screen potential new-hire pilots and maintain records on their flight crews.