ICAO SHOULD LOOK AT THE FAA’S VDRP AND ASAP PROGRAMS IN ITS SAFETY INFORMATION REVIEW

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ARTICLE: FSF COO Offers Comments on Safety Information Protection

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Capt. Kevin Hiatt, Chief Operating Officer of the Flight Safety Foundation, submitted testimony (Hiatt Comments) to the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Safety Information Protection Task Force. His focus was on the importance of protecting safety data during investigations and criminalization (see recent commentary on the French criminal case on the Concorde).

As those are extremely important points on a global basis, in the United States there are growing concerns about the FAA’s misuse of ASAP and VDRP reports in enforcement cases. Increasingly individual pilots and mechanics, as well as airlines, have complained about voluntarily submitting reports about incidents under those programs only to receive FAA enforcement letters. According to many (all who spoke on this subject) who have attended our Regulatory Affairs course, the consequence of the FAA’s asserting the “exceptions” and taking enforcement actions is a conscious (if not conscientious ) decision not to submit the information.

ICAO, in its review of Safety Information Protection, would be well advised to review the FAA’s ASAP and VDRP programs and to focus on how the people administering these programs have created an environment DETERRING the submission. The FAA has asked for specific examples of such abuses, but the pilots/mechanics/carriers have not done so for fear of retribution by the same FAA inspectors who assessed civil penalties or suspended certificates based on voluntary submission of information. ICAO could collect those facts and do so with a degree of insulation from retribution. The flow of information to ICAO might be most telling.

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