Aviation Safety Reporting Systems

The expectation is for aviation operators to increase the complexity and sophistication of their safety programs commensurate with the increasing complexity and sophistication of their operation. This means the safety program must implement new technology to acquire data, not only telling “what” happened but “why” it happened. This supports the maturation of the safety program from not only being reactive but also moving toward being proactive and predictive.

To acquire data telling the “why”, an operator must establish a data reporting system that protects the individual reporting from disciplinary actions by the company. You want employees feeling free to report their mistakes or near-miss mistakes. There are a few situations where the reporting isn’t protected such as drug/alcohol abuse, reckless behavior, or lapse in integrity. But over 90% of errors are caused by unintentional mistakes, most times influenced or caused by the company. We call these systemic influencers and if not corrected, will result in continual errors. Systemic influencers are usually attributed to failings in procedure/process development, documentation of procedures/processes, aircrew training programs, resources, and/or supervisors/managers. Imagine letting go of an employee who reported a mistake and then wondering why the mistake occurred.  Well, you just let go of the best source of information to tell you why the mistake occurred, what was in their head.  In addition, this is a perfect opportunity to motivate the employee to be a safety advocate instead of disciplining them and making them a safety adversary.

For a safety program to begin to become proactive and predictive, requires the use of technology to automate the capture, download and analysis of operational data.  Technology enables the immediate capture and timely download of safety hazard precursor (mistakes and errors) data for safety analysis. The timely transformation of data to information useful to decision makers enables the proactive and predictive nature of a healthy safety program.

By creating a protected aviation safety reporting system that employs the appropriate level of technology, you enable a healthy and vibrant safety culture that moves your safety program from only being reactive, to also being proactive and predictive.