Two Examples of the FAA’s increasing its Aviation Safety Proactive Impact through Numbers

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ARTICLE: FAA Pilot Program Collects ASIAS Data from GA Operators Near Phoenix

ARTICLE: AAR Becomes the First MRO Operator to Sign Data-Sharing Pact with FAA


Mary Schiavo, a former US DoT IG, is generally accredited with coining the phrase “Tombstone Agency” in referring to the FAA. It was fair to say that, given the regulatory process and the tools then available, that group of aviation safety professionals was only able to REACT to issues.

With the institution of FOQA , VDRP , ASIAS , ASAP, CAST , SMS and the like, the FAA’s focus has moved from the past to addressing issues before they become a future problem. The key element to the puzzle is the collection of data which are subjected to complex analytical programs positing future issues which would be addressed. Armed with those safety pointers, the FAA, management and the unions assess the risk and where appropriate, design/implement solutions.

The above two articles show the expanding dimensions of this data driven effort. The first moves the FAA’s vision into the General Aviation arena. The second announces the beginning of the FAA’s purview into the land of Part 145.

The AINonline piece follows up on earlier announcement of the application of ASIAS to the general Aviation community as a test case. The original FAA press release made mention of the VDRP-like quality of this initiative, but this report deals in greater detail about how this General Aviation Joint Steering Committee recommended program will work. The promise of this effort is great because historically GA’s fatal accident rate was not good.

The General Aviation Issues Analysis Team will manage this creation with the analytical support of the University of North Dakota and its operation will resemble CAST. Data will be derived from Flight data management (included in some glass-panel avionics systems plus some mobile apps). Further sources of relevant information include FOQA programs and operator-led aviation safety action programs (ASAP). The names of the operators/pilots/mechanics can be redacted where appropriate. The GAIAT will examine the collected information and make the recommendations which have been so powerful in the commercial sector.

The variations in the GA world (type of aircraft, size of the organization, complexity of the operations, the geography in which the aircraft fly, etc.) provide a more daunting matrix for designing and defining solutions. NBAA’s Safety Committee Chairman and its Senior Manager for safety and flight operations are involved plus MITRE; thus it is probable that the technical support will be applied.

The second involves one of the country’s largest and most sophisticated Repair Station organization, AAR. By including its multitude of data points (SDRs, CAS issues, QA/QC reports of irregularities) the numbers will reflect not only on the Part 145 certificate, but also show information about the P121/135/129 customers. As noted by the FAA’s manager, Steven Douglas, who is responsible for the MROs, The FAA is very pleased to have AAR launch the ASIAS program among MROs…We believe that sharing and analyzing safety data are important for the aviation industry as a whole.”

A single Part 145 ASIAS participant is a good beginning, but the accumulation of large numbers is critical to produce statistically reliable recommendations. Consequently, it will be important for ARSA and AFS-340 to recruit more participants.

Two important examples of how expanding the data available to the FAA has made it a proactive, preventative organization. It will be interesting to see how efficacious these two will be.

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