FAA Safety Data Bases & Systems explained

faa safety data bases
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FAA Safety Data Bases & Systems

The Tulsa Business & Business News recently published an insightful column on the FAA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System. Its author wrote some thoughtful comments which are not only applicable to ASRS but also ASIAS, ASAP, VDRP, FOQA, CAST and all of the data-rich systems. This new preventative approaches are contributing to a significant reduction of risk in aviation.

Here are the opening paragraphs of the Tulsa piece which serve as a proper introduction to the FAA release of Fact Sheets on these programs:

“Wonders will never cease,” Sir Henry Bate Dudley said 240 years ago.

Case in point counts at least five “wonders” — it is a government program, has low cost, is a joint effort of two government agencies, is basically a one-person operation, although he has some support assistance and it has been in existence four decades.

The program’s full effect will never be known, but it probably has saved countless lives throughout the world.

The FAA on April 12 issued three fact sheets about the three major programs. Those sources of information are primarily descriptive of the processes and data bases of each. Unfortunately there is a dearth of information about the outputs or more correctly the accomplishments of these state-of-the-art safety FAA/industry collaborative systems.

faa safety data bases


The Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) serves as a central conduit for the exchange of safety information among its stakeholders, providing a valuable resource for the aviation community. The ASIAS vision is focused on the establishment of a comprehensive network of safety information sources shared by stakeholders supporting the global air transportation system, making it the only such capability of its kind in the world.

The ASIAS procedures, operations and analysis activities are governed by the ASIAS Executive Board (AEB). The AEB has representation from aircraft operators, labor groups, manufacturers and government agencies including FAA aviation safety, participating airlines and air traffic operations. Industry collaboration includes a balance of interests of all ASIAS stakeholders as well as the sharing of safety information and analytical capabilities. It is the goal of ASIAS to provide a reliable source of information to the aviation community that will be used to impact safety decisions and reduce the risk of accidents program connects approximately 185 data and information sources across government and industry, including voluntarily provided safety data. The ASIAS program works closely with the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) and the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC) to monitor known risk, evaluate the effectiveness of deployed mitigations, and detect emerging risk.

ASIAS has made substantial contributions to all aspects of aviation safety. The commitment of the participants is critical to its future success.

faa safety data bases

Aviation Voluntary Reporting Program is composed of eight individually focused systems designed to detect issues as they emerge rather than when they become a problem. Here are the major AVRPs:

  • Aircraft Certification Service Pilot Program—it allows the employees of the AIR service to document problems without retribution.
  • Airport Voluntary Reporting System—similarly opens up communications with the airport staff.
  • Air Traffic Safety Action Program—a system for air traffic controllers.
  • Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) encourages air carrier and repair station employees to voluntarily report safety information that may be critical to identifying potential precursors to accidents.

faa safety data bases

  • Flight Operational Quality Assurance collects and analyzes digital flight data generated during normal operations. These programs provide greater insight into the total flight operations environment.

faa safety data bases

  • Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Program VDRP provides incentives for an air carrier, repair station, qualified fractional ownership program, or other eligible FAA-regulated entity to voluntarily identify, report, and correct instances of regulatory noncompliance.

faa safety data bases

The Commercial Aviation Safety Team has developed an integrated, data driven strategy to reduce the commercial aviation fatality risk in the United States and promote new government and industry safety initiatives throughout the world.

faa safety data bases

The Commercial Aviation Safety Team strategy is to significantly increase public safety by adopting an integrated, data-driven strategy to reduce the fatality risk in commercial air travel. Several events in the late 1990s were the impetus to the formation of CAST.

At that time safety officials realized that with the growth in air traffic a corresponding increase in aviation safety was needed. Both industry and government had been searching for a reliable way to choose wisely among many deserving actions to reduce the accident fatality rate and improve aviation safety.

Two government reports on aviation safety provided the framework for the formation of CAST. The White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security report released in February 1997 challenged the government and industry to reduce the accident rate 80 percent over ten years. The National Civil Aviation Review Commission report followed up in December with a recommendation that the FAA and industry work together to develop a comprehensive integrated safety plan to implement many existing safety recommendations and develop performance measures and milestones to assess progress in meeting safety goals. The Commission also recognized that the global nature of aviation demanded that aviation safety needed to be addressed worldwide, not just in the United States.

The FAA, and industry determined that their safety advocacy work was complimentary and CAST was formed in 1998.

The CAST model:

  • Identifies the top safety areas through the analysis of accident and incident data.
  • Charters joint teams of experts to develop methods to fully understand the chain of events leading to accidents.
  • Identifies and implements high-leverage interventions or safety enhancements to reduce the fatality rate in these areas.

The CAST model has been extremely successful in the United States. Safety experts report that by implementing the most promising safety enhancements, the fatality rate of commercial air travel has been reduced in the United States by 83 percent over the last ten years.

Using CAST as a model of success, government and industry leaders chartered the International Helicopter Safety Team in January 2006 to reduce the worldwide military and civil helicopter accident rate by 80 percent by 2016. Members include helicopter operator associations, airframe manufacturers, and regulators such as the FAA, Transport Canada, ICAO, and EASA.

CAST safety enhancements are being used as the basis for outreach to safety professionals throughout the world. Under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), safety teams have committed to implement safety enhancements worldwide.

CAST has evolved beyond the ‘historic’ approach of examining past accident data alone to an approach that focuses on risk prediction and mitigation strategies. Using aviation incident data, CAST is identifying emerging safety threats before they result in accidents.

These three Fact Sheets provide the public with a wealth ready encyclopedia about the FAA’s mechanisms which are enhancing aviation safety. With meta data and regression analyses as the techniques for mining these massive files, these tools may not be easily understood but for these useful Fact Sheets.


ARTICLE: Aviation Safety Reporting System borne out of crash

FACT SHEET: Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing Program

FACT SHEET: Aviation Voluntary Reporting Programs

FACT SHEET: Commercial Aviation Safety Team

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