Sept. 16, 2019
Voluntary reporting hazards often leads to corrective actions that make a difference in day-to-day operations.
An increasing number of business aircraft operators, including charter operators, are actively participating in aviation safety reporting programs. These programs for collecting and sharing aviation safety data include:
- Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP)
- Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing Program (ASIAS)
Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) These voluntary programs and others work in partnership to create safety improvements for individual operators and the industry as a whole. The more organizations that participate in these programs, the more comprehensive and successful the safety improvements.
Similarly, operators benefit by having more hazards identified by employees and more appropriate corrective actions taken when more employees in each company participate. Encouraging participation from individual employees can be as simple as communicating the lessons learned.
“A key driver to a successful ASAP is to commu-nicate results of the program so participants know it’s worthwhile,” said Russ Lawton, director of safety at the Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) and program manager of the ACSF’s ASAP. More than 140 Part 91 and 135 operators participate in that program.
What has the business aviation community learned from safety reporting and data sharing programs?
Here are a just few case studies of positive changes that have directly resulted from safety reporting programs.
REDUCING ALTITUDE DEVIATIONS
One of ASAP’s larger and more active participants began to notice a slight increase in the number of altitude deviations reported in its ASAP. This operator had recently added new aircraft types and thought the new aircraft and altitude deviations might be related, but root cause analysis indicated that a lack of familiarity with the new aircraft types wasn’t the problem – communication between crew members was.
As a result, this operator retrained all flight crewmembers on standard communication practices, including verification by both crewmembers of the accuracy of FMS data, when compared to data found on aeronautical charts.
This company also developed and implemented a policy that both crewmembers have a responsibility to verify course, altitude and speed mode.
The operator also provided further training on appropriate interaction with ATC, including confirmation of ATC instructions when either pilot was uncertain of the given instructions.
As a result of this effort and in conjunction with this operator’s FOQA program, incidents of altitude deviation began to decline almost immediately.
Lawton says revised training is often a corrective action for events reported through ASAP.
“That’s the beauty of ASAP – it provides real-world feedback on what’s really going on out there,” said Lawton. “That information enables an ASAP participating company to revise training to respond to real-time issues, not conduct the same training over and over again while ignoring actual risks in the system.”
An ASAP report, along with Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) reports submitted to NASA, led the FAA to change the name of an intersection in Northwest Ohio. A de-identified pilot narrative, received through ACSF’s ASAP, reported confusion regarding the KLINE intersection on V383 and the KLYNE intersection approximately 50 miles away. KLINE was a waypoint on several departures from Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, while KLYNE was part of a nearby high-altitude structure.
The pilot reported putting KLINE in the FMS when the aircraft was actually cleared to KLYNE, but he quickly realized the error. However, he noted that the confusion could easily have led to a gross navigation error.
The FAA responded to these safety reports by renaming KLINE to avoid pilot and air traffic controller confusion and prevent navigational errors.
STANDARDIZED APPROACHES AND GO-AROUND PROCEDURES
“The FAA’s publication of safety educational resources as a result of voluntary reporting programs demonstrates the power of data sharing,” said Jens Hennig, vice president of operations at the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and tri-chair of the ASIAS general aviation issues analysis team. “These are success stories and show there are issues that don’t discriminate between different segments of the aviation industry.”
As an example, ASIAS conducted research on high-energy approaches by comparing actual stable and unstable approaches of business aircraft operators. This study resulted in an FAA Safety Team (FAAST) briefing that highlighted a General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC) safety enhancement titled “Stabilized Approach and Go-Around,” which detailed the risks of unstabilized approaches. This safety enhancement underscores the importance of standardized go-around procedures for the entire industry and includes tips for maintaining a stabilized approach.
“The ASIAS study provided the safety information for the FAAST Briefing and highlighted the importance of being aware of how you manage the aircraft’s total energy – kinetic (velocity) plus potential (altitude) – as you begin to fly the approach,” said Hennig.
Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) 18009 is another example of safety outreach resulting from reporting program data. This SAFO, which discusses the risk of a possible runway overrun during takeoff at San Francisco International Airport, was published after a flight crew submitted an ASAP report regarding risks after they had used company-provided takeoff performance system data for Runway 10L when the departure was actually off of Runway 01L.
This SAFO is an example of leveraging different data sources to highlight an issue or risk to operators. Data from multiple segments of the industry prompted the FAA to produce this safety resource.
NO PUNISHMENT FOR REPORTING HAZARDS
The above examples are just a few events in which safety reporting programs have resulted in real-life safety improvements.
Jet Edge International’s Senior Vice President of Safety and Security Cary Aquila credits the non-punitive nature of these safety programs for their success.
“The biggest advantage of the Aviation Safety Action Program is its inherent emphasis on encouraging people to proactively report safety-related events without fear of reprisal,” said Aquila. “This encouragement helps personnel become less resistant to reporting or making recommendations because they realize that they are not the point of blame, but part of the solution.”
NBAA encourages its member companies to have and use the information from their safety reporting and data analysis/monitoring programs, including ASAP and FOQA, to address issues within their own operations, as well as to contribute their information to safety data sharing programs such as ASIAS.
EXPLAINING ASAP, FOQA AND ASIAS
There are three major aviation safety reporting programs – ASAP, FOQA and ASIAS. Here’s how they differ.
ASAP – This is a voluntary, confidential method of reporting safety incidents to the FAA. ASAP participants sign a memorandum of understanding with the FAA which, in part, ensures a non-punitive approach to safety reporting. Any report received from a single source will not result in punishment for the person who submits the report, except in cases of intentional noncompliance with regulations, intentional disregard for safety, criminal activity, drug- or alcohol- related activity, or intentional falsification.
FOQA – This is a voluntary program for the routine collection and analysis of flight operational data to provide more information about, and greater insight into, the flight operations environment.
ASIAS – This is a data repository of more than a dozen public and proprietary data sources, including both ASAP and FOQA, with more than 90 business aircraft operators participating.
NBAA participates in ASAIS on behalf of its members. Vice President of Regulatory and International Affairs Doug Carr is a member of the ASIAS Executive Board. Mark Larsen, NBAA’s senior manager of safety and flight operations, is a member of the General Aviation Issue Analysis Team that focuses on GA safety topics and develops proposals on priorities and process changes for consideration by the executive board.
The ASIAS program only uses aggregated industry data in which the participating operators’ identifying information has been removed.