June 24, 2021

The FAA recently launched a new Voluntary Safety Reporting Program to enable approximately 7,400 engineers, safety inspectors, systems safety specialists and other agency employees to report safety concerns confidentially, without risk of punitive action.

According to the FAA, the “open, non-punitive and confidential reporting system” includes an event review team, comprised of subject matter experts who will evaluate anonymously reported safety issues, recommend corrective actions and monitor resolution of “safety sensitive issues that may otherwise have gone unnoticed due to fear of repercussion.”

“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.”

Doug Carr, NBAA senior vice-president for safety, security, sustainability and international affairs, said the new program mirrors similar practices seen across the aviation industry, including in many business aviation flight operation safety management systems.

“Safety is a common goal for the FAA and our industry,” said Carr. “You obviously cannot address safety issues if you don’t know they exist, and transparent, penalty-free feedback mechanisms enable proper reporting and management of such concerns. It’s encouraging to see the FAA adopt an internal, confidential reporting program similar to those that have helped to improve the industry’s safety record for many years.”

The program is the result of legislation passed last December following congressional inquiries into the FAA’s certification process for the Boeing 737-MAX airliner, which lawmakers said revealed concerns about protections for agency employees who reported possible safety concerns or violations during the aircraft certification process.

The new program is intended to work in parallel with existing reporting tools, including the FAA Hotline, AVS Safety Recommendations Program and Quality Management System, the agency said.

Review the FAA order. (PDF)