Flight Operation Quality Assurance (FOQA) and Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP)

Voluntary, non-punitive safety reporting programs have proven to be a unique and invaluable source of safety information. Pilots, controllers, mechanics, and other aviation professionals are on the front lines of daily operations and need to be able to report safety hazards they observe without fear of certificate action by the regulator, discipline by the company, or action in civil litigation.

In the US, FOQA and ASAP are voluntary safety programs authorized by the FAA to enhance the safety of the airline industry and the flying public through cooperative safety partnerships with the airlines, the labor union and the FAA. The programs gather safety related information though voluntary safety reports.

In a very large percentage of cases, information obtained by ASAP reports cannot be obtained any other way. That is, no one but the reporter is aware of the problem identified. Pilots have a professional interest in identifying and correcting safety deficiencies and they must not be hindered from doing so. Most, if not all, pilots are also willing to identify and discuss the underlying causes of their own errors so they and their peers can learn from them, but need assurance that their forthrightness will not result in punishment.

ASAP fosters a voluntary, cooperative, non-punitive environment for the open reporting of safety of flight concerns. Through such reporting, all parties will have access to valuable safety information that may not otherwise be obtainable. This information will be analyzed in order to develop corrective action to help solve safety issues and possibly eliminate deviations from Federal Aviation Rules.

FOQA collects and analyzes large amounts of parametric flight data generated during normal line operations. These data provide great insight into the total flight operations environment and have proven valuable in identifying trends that may indicate potential hazards. The information and insights provided by FOQA can improve safety by significantly enhancing training effectiveness, operational procedures, maintenance and engineering procedures, and air traffic control procedures.

Legislation is necessary to provide maximum protection from misuse of voluntarily supplied safety information. These protections must include actions by the regulator, the employer, and as the result of litigation. Failure to provide such protection will undoubtedly result in a significant reduction in the amount and quality of safety data that can be obtained.