The Max 8 mess revealed a lack of trust among the top and bottom of the FAA certification team
Congress mandated that VDRP be applied to these workers
Trust of the PROCESS is needed to get SAFETY BENEFITS
Congress mandated that the FAA extend its existing Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Program to the employees who work within the Aviation Standards organization, with particular emphasis on those involved with Aircraft Certification. A detailed Order (VS 8000.375) was issued on February 2, 2021 and a Press Release – FAA Launches Voluntary Reporting Program for Safety Office was distributed on June 21, with a statement from the Administrator which emphasized the importance of the AVS VSRP.
FAA’s safety mission has greatly benefitted from the VOLUNTARY collection of data from all forms of certificate holders as well as around the globe. The statement recited the impressive numbers:
Since 1998, the risk of a fatal accident has decreased by 94 percent. Voluntary reporting programs have been integral to this reduction of risk by identifying and resolving issues before an accident occurs.”
This vital safety information is submitted under a number of voluntary programs from industry and within the FAA:
Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP)
Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS)
Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA)
Technical Operations Safety Action Program (T-SAP)
Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Program (VDRP)
AND WITHIN THE FAA:
Aircraft Certification Service Pilot Program
In June 2015, the FAA, in partnership with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), launched an 18-month pilot program called the Safety Review Process (SRP), which is open to all bargaining-unit employees.
[this temporary program has been replaced by VS 8000.375]
As the quoted safety results amply demonstrate the efficacy of these disclosure programs, particularly the steps taken after the numbers are included in the data base. A collaborative process sifts through all the reports and ranks the safety risks signaled by these individual incidents. The most important actions in this process are (1) the cooperative development of solutions to the problems flagged and (2) the implementation of those proactive, remedial fixes. This only works if THE PROCESS IS ADHERED TO ON A STRICT BASIS!!!
A major FAA internal VDRP initiative was directed to air traffic controllers. NATCA welcomed it and urged its Members to use the new safety tool (see poster). Several years later, the DOT Inspector General wrote a report suggesting that the process was not being correctly followed to a measurable safety plus :
“We found that, although FAA completed ATSAP implementation at all air traffic control facilities in 2010, the Agency will need to make significant improvements before ATSAP will be able to effectively identify and address the root causes of safety risks. For example, due to ATSAP provisions designed to protect controller confidentiality, much of the ATSAP data that FAA collects are not validated, raising questions about the effectiveness of these data for analyzing safety trends. We also found that FAA’s oversight of ATSAP lacks effective program management controls. For example, FAA does not have a formal process to review the effectiveness of decisions made by the program’s review committees to ensure that report acceptance criteria are rigorously followed and that conduct issues are dealt with appropriately. Failure to address potential deficiencies in transparency and accountability may lead to the perception that ATSAP is an amnesty program in which reports are automatically accepted, regardless of whether they qualify under the program’s guidelines.”
The lack of trust within the Aircraft Certification Service has made the headlines of many media report. The engineers and technicians, who make the significant judgments in assessing the airworthiness of a project, have made it clear that they believe that the levels of managers above them do not listen. The personnel evolution of the AIR leaders have created openings in several offices. The individuals selected must make creating TRUST as their collective priority. Without it the AVS VSRP will be a hallow “activity” and no real aviation safety ACTION!!
WASHINGTON, June 21 (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Monday it has launched a program to help make it easier for staff overseeing Boeing (BA.N) and other airplane manufacturers [STET: It applies to employees other than certification] to report safety concerns.
An independent survey released in August found FAA safety employees said they faced “strong” external pressure from industry and raised concerns the agency does not always prioritize air safety.
The survey gave ammunition to critics who argued in the aftermath of two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes that the FAA had not done enough to insulate employees from industry pressure.
The FAA said on Monday the new program for the 7,400 employees in its Aviation Safety office will allow them to report confidentially any safety concerns without fear of punitive action.
Report The office oversees manufacturers, airlines, maintenance providers, aviation medical practitioners and flight crews.
“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 in a statement.
“We want our employees to know that when they speak up, they can be sure someone is listening.”
The survey, conducted in late 2019 and early 2020, quoted one anonymous FAA employee as saying there was a message of, “Don’t rock the boat with Boeing.”
…The FAA said it worked closely with union leaders on how to structure the new program.
“The more we can continue to encourage people to report, the more we can influence the safety in the system,” Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which represents engineers and other Aviation Safety employees, said in a statement….
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